Tips for Personal and Business Success
By Sherri Ferris, President and CEO
Protocol Professionals, Inc.

Whether you are working on assignment or socializing on your own time, others will judge you and your company on your behavior and appearance. If you want to be an Ambassador of American values when traveling abroad, attract more business and bring credibility to your company or organization, then projecting a positive image is vital to your success.

Most Americans would like to be known as gracious, groomed, well mannered, courteous, accommodating, culturally aware and professional at all times. Wishing doesn't make it so but increasing your awareness of how others perceive you is a beginning. Learning and practicing more effective ways of behaving is the key -- practicing them over and over until the new behaviors become a permanent and automatic part of your repertoire. You will then engage in these behaviors without thinking.

  1. Know how to say what you do and what the company or organization does in 15 seconds. People have short attention spans. Example: "We are an international relations consulting firm". Example: "We are an international special event and hospitality firm." What is the most succinct way to say what you do??? You want to intrigue the listener to ask more questions not turn them off with a hard sales pitch that is "me" focused. Encounters that are more like informational interviews help the other person to feel valued rather than put upon. "Spamming" in person isn't any more effective than it is on the Internet.
  2. Pursue a marketing strategy of "Attraction vs. Promotion." If you conduct yourself with self-confidence then others will naturally be attracted to you. Personal charm is like a magnet. The "used car salesman" approach is not.
  3. Be aware of proper dining etiquette. You should know what to do with your napkin and utensils. Know how to seat your guests, serve wine, and make conversation. Never talk with food in your mouth, eat with your hands or pick your teeth.
  4. Know how to make appropriate introductions. Your demeanor should always be more formal until invited to do otherwise. This is an art not a science. Use correct names and titles. Present lower ranking to higher ranking and say something positive about each person so that the conversation takes off.
  5. Research and be prepared ahead of time. Understand cultural values and how they are intrinsically bound to ones behavior. Know something about your guests' interests and background ahead of time. Determine if there are any dietary restrictions or food allergies or if your guest drinks alcohol. Administrative staffs can be very helpful.
  6. Be current on domestic and world events, and what impacts your guests business or culture. Scan the Internet or "World" section of the daily newspaper so that you can comment on pertinent topics. Your guest will feel flattered that you took the time and interest.
  7. Do carry professionally looking business cards with case and know how and when to exchange them. Do you put an Asian's card in your pocket? Are yours "dog eared", scribbled on or too small to read? Do you pass them out like playing cards? -- Not if you want to be successful.
  8. Know how to determine someone's surname and ALWAYS ALWAYS double check the spelling and exact title before putting anything in writing. Which is the first and last name of an Asian name? Are you sure which name is the last name of someone who has Latin heritage? The worst faux pas someone can make is mispronouncing a name.
  9. Adopt the Disney philosophy, "The guest is always right!" Know when it is more important to be accurate or to be right. Sometimes correcting someone may seem punitive and perceived as a putdown. Do you have meta-messages in your language style that really say, "You're stupid"? For example: Stated in a punitive tone of voice, "You should have let ME help you!"
  10. Try never to say "No", "I don't know" or "It's not my job" but know your company or organization's limitations. Asians have a wonderful way of "saving face", which acknowledges the value in the other person's request or comments but doesn't necessarily communicate agreement. For example: "Thank you. That's a very interesting point -- one which we'll definitely have to consider."
  11. Smile when you talk on the phone and when you record your voice mail. Ever notice how people sound depressed on their voice mail? Try recording it both ways, playing it back and you'll experience the difference. People are not attracted to those who reflect a sad, angry, or bored demeanor. For more tips on personal success visit our website often or enroll in one of our protocol and etiquette seminars.

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