In order to become successful in an ‘emerging market’ country, we have to educate and empower ourselves to be effective in first world business and communication. We all know that people living in different places in the world behave differently, so in order to be competitive in industry we need to learn some of these differences – but, more importantly, if you improve on your professional and personal image and know the appropriate business etiquette, this will ensure and enhance positive co-operation with both colleagues and clients.
How we look, act , behave, speak and carry ourselves is all important if we want to have credibility in the workplace.” Old – fashioned” qualities such as grooming and etiquette ( the latter basically being consideration for others ) are regaining importance in in the corporate world and there is a global trend towards dressing up again in business. Research has shown that when people dress casually for work, they also tend to take a more casual approach to the work they do.
Your appearance is the first thing people notice – you have exactly 30 seconds to make a first impression. People are judged by the way they package themselves i.e look and image, before skills and experience. Your clothes should complement you physically ( in colour and in style ) as well as reflecting the dress code of your industry. Remember, particularly if you are in sales, you need to be aware of the lifestyle or dress code of the you are selling to. “ People like people like themselves “ is a phrase we often hear and this can help to build a positive rapport with your client.
“ Business relationships…..are functions of rapport – the more of it one can generate, the greater the chances of positive outcomes” Michael Brooks, author of ‘Instant Rapport’
We are all pressed for time nowadays, so my suggestion is to invest in a small core working wardrobe – made up of classic but versatile basics. Start with three jackets, five tops and four bottoms. 70 % of your wardrobe should comprise basic and neutral colours and only 30% should be pattern or colour ( that way, you won’t end up with a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear )! Spend more money on good jackets and pants and less on tops as the latter you need more of and they also need to be replaced more often.Ideally, choose one jacket in a basic colour such as black, navy or grey, another in a colour or a pattern ( e.g a houndstooth for ladies and a pinstripe for men ) and a third in a neutral shde like stone or brown..Dress to suit your proportions as these won’t change. Jacket sleeves should not be too long as this will make you look ‘sloppy’ and avoid clothing that is either too tight or too baggy as it never looks professional. Your five tops should consist of one garment in a neutral colour ( e.g white ), a pattern ( thin stripe ), a warm colour ( e.g a shade of pink ), a cool colour ( e.g blue ) and a basic ( e.g black or charcoal ).
Your four bottoms should comprise a selection of the following: Black pants, a black skirt, stone pants, brown pants, charcoal or grey pants and if you are able to wear jeans on a Friday, then your best bet is to wear dark blue denims as they look smarter than light blue denims. Important accessories are a good watch, pen, handbag/laptop bag and good shoes. Belts and shoes should match, and shoes should ideally match the colour of your hemline or be darker.
Appropriate non-verbal or visual communication is an expression of good etiquette and respect. How you act and behave is also very important. Always act with integrity – good business ethics are back in fashion! This also encompasses your values, beliefs, and attitude. Firm handshakes and direct eye contact are often the norm in business but in other emerging market countries such as Korea and the Middle East this is a sign of disrespect.Brush up on your knowledge of these varied interpretations for success in business.
Good posture identifies you immediately as someone with something to contribute and is admired world-wide. Walk with an erect stance in a purposeful but unhurried stride and when seated sit upright and lean forward as it signals interest and attentiveness. Next, eye contact is as important as smiling! The ability to hold eye contact ( without making the other person uncomfortable ) is a worthwhile skill to have. A good, firm handshake which is warm and friendly ensures that you are immediately off to a positive start.Ladies, please remember that men automatically shake hands with each other so the onus is on you to make the first move to shake hands in order to avoid any confusion.
Time management, telephone and cellphone etiquette as well as dining etiquette all contribute to the overall ‘package’ that we are trying to portray.