It is well known that regardless of who you are, if you have good manners you will be liked and supported. This was something that was instilled in me from a very early age, and I will be sure to teach my daughter as well.
Just last week I had two people contact me via email:
- One I had not heard from (despite many attempts from me) for a very long time (years), and didn't think it was necessary to even consider asking how I was or what I've been up to before launching into their request for help with building new relationships (and may I add without using not even one pleasantry, please or thank you).
- And another who would like to arrange an interview but didn't think it was even necessary to first introduce themselves properly or even kindly ask.
This has left me thinking... Where have the niceties gone? Have people lost touch with basic business etiquette? And since when has it been a expectation that relationships should be all one-way?
Relationships need to be founded on reciprocity, sincerity, and a mind set of how can I add value to those in my network. Advocating the importance of this to others is what I live and strive for.
We all rely on our professional and personal networks to help us in life, but being deliberate about how you ask for what you need or want can make a huge difference in your outcome.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Use Common courtesy: Hello, Hi, Thank You, Sincerely, Best Regards. Each of these introductions and sign-offs are considered a staple when it comes to business email etiquette.
- Take the time to first acknowledge that your request is indeed a favour, and not just a given, implies a two-way relationship rather than making the other person feel like they are being taken for granted. Also (if it’s not obvious) explaining why you’re asking this person this particular favour is just as important. For example, “Michelle, I have a favour to kindly ask you… by any chance could you please cover for me and attend the client function tonight? A deadline on a project has been brought forward and I’m not going to be able to break away from the office. By taking the consideration and time with phrasing your request like this makes it clear why you’re asking the favour, that you value Michelle’s time and effort plus also implies that you’re open to returning the favour at some point in the future.
- Always include an email signature. What if I have to call you? Or I can’t remember the spelling of your website domain? Or I want to forward your contact information onto someone else? By not including your email signature means people have to search for your details and waste their valuable time. Just as you wouldn’t mail a letter without a return address and your name signed at the end, don’t send e-mail without some sort of identifier.
- Finally, provide an "opt out” escape clause. People naturally like doing things to help but no one feels good about doing a favour that they don’t feel they have much of an option of opting out of. Straight after your request make sure you always clearly give the other person the opportunity to easily and graciously decline regardless of their circumstances. For example “I completely understand if you can’t help out, but I thought I’d ask”.
No relationship, professional or personal should ever be taken for granted. Whether you are forging new ones or maintaining existing ones, it’s important to remember to retain a high level of professionalism, respect and courtesy when requesting a favour.
So remember to use your niceties and you will enjoy more support, admiration and respect from your networks (and people in general).
Speaking of niceties, I got the loveliest email from a participant of our last public course this morning. She detailed that so much had improved for her (and those around her) since the course and in particular she said..."the course has already opened my eyes to the possibilities that my existing network presents". I wanted to share this as most people think of networking as meeting strangers, but remember there is so much potential in your existing network!
Still on the topic of existing networks, If you haven't seen my latest interviews - here they are on Yahoo7 Finance:
2) 'Making the most of your Network' (Sadly, this link has been removed).
As always get in touch, if I can help you further.