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Mind Your Manners

These eight tips prove that courtesy does count for growing businesses.

Entrepreneur

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Believe it or not, minding your Ps and Qs really does make a difference in business these days. As one business owner said to a satisfied client: “We always hire for manners because everything else can be learned on the job.”

It’s an interesting hiring strategy; who would have thought that the unique value proposition in the deal would be manners? Although business protocol isn’t actually taught in any business school, maybe they should start.

So what can you do to incorporate a little social grace into your daily routine? It’s not as hard as you think, as the following explains:

1. Focus on the present. We’ve all turned into multitasking machines: we talk on the phone, check e-mail, travel to the next meeting and eat lunch, all at the same time. But juggling tasks is overrated and unfulfilling for all involved. The person on the other end of the line can tell your mind is wandering as your voice trails off, the clicking of the keys in the background is annoying and distracting, you’re about to side swipe the guy on your right side on the road, and food is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not shoved down your throat as fast as possible. Slow down, focus and put your full attention into everything you do. People notice and appreciate your interest.

2.When you’re on the phone, smile as you talk. Smiling almost forces you to articulate more – it’s harder to mumble and slur your words when you smile. And a smile comes through in your voice and tone. We all know companies that put millions of rands into a fancy customer relationship management (CRM) system to help them “touch” their customers in meaningful ways. The funny thing is, when you phone their main number, you get put into a phone tree that never seems to end. It’s frustrating– you actually have to listen to several minutes of “Press 1 for X, press 4 for Y”.

Most of us would first recommend the company has a real human being, preferably one who smiles and picks up the phone, at least during normal business hours. A company like this can hire alot of people for all the money it spent on the CRM system upgrades and training. Call us old-fashioned, but it really is nice when you can reach a smiling human being on the other end of the line.

3. Listen to your phone’s outgoing message. If a salesperson’s voicemail barks, “I’m not here. Don’t leave me a message on this phone!”, would you buy from him? Not likely. Make it easy for people to find you and follow up with you, especially if you’re in a people business. It’s perfectly acceptable to say thatyou’re travelling and unable to check messages regularly, or that you prefer people to leave messages at another number, or even to set your cellphone so it doesn’t accept messages at all. Announcing that you don’t welcome voice messages makes you seem unapproachable and cold. Neither are desirable qualities in business.

4. Apologise when you make a mistake. It’s the cover-up or denial, not the screw-up, that ultimately gets you in trouble. Imagine having two people not show up for scheduled meetings. One makes excuses and says he’ll get back to you with dates for a lunch to make up for it (and doesn’t bother), and the other phones the following day asking when and where you can meet again. Everyone has emergencies. It’s how you handle these situations that show your character. People can become more loyal than they ever intended if you rectify a bad situation by addressing the problem and making amends. “The dog ate my homework” didn’t work in high school, and it won’t work in business. Come clean and make good on your promises.

5. Let the call go into voice mail. Turn off your cellphone when you’re in a meeting and forward your phone into voice mail when people are in your office. If you start responding to every incoming missive, you send a message that the person you’re with just isn’t important. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, so give them your full attention and be engaged in the conversation in front of you. In a movie theatre, before the movie starts, there’s an ad to remind people to turn off their phones. Do we really need to stoop that low in business too? Before you give speeches or workshops, ask everyone in the room to silence their phones, and let them know that you’ll collect R10 for every phone that rings and donate the money to charity. That usually does the trick.

6. Practise positive e-mail etiquette. If you wouldn’t want to see it on the front page of the newspaper, then don’t send the message. It’s amazing what gets passed around the office and left on the printer, and you can be sure that information will fall into the wrong hands. So before you hit “Send” after a heated interchange, take a walk, get a cup of coffee and then read it one last time to make sure you really want that message to go out.

7. Acknowledge gifts. A simple “thank you” is sufficient. It’s embarrassing for both parties to have to follow up to make sure a gift was received. The person who sent the gift isn’t fishing for a compliment; they just want to be sure their package was delivered. And the recipient knows they should have responded sooner. Save everyone the hassle, and just drop a quick e-mail saying that it arrived. A corollary to this one is that if someone is responsible for helping you find a new customer or getting you a meeting with an influential person, you should let them know that you appreciate their help. A customer or a meeting is a gift in many ways.

8. Don’t take it out on the receptionist or cashier.When things aren’t going your way, don’t let the first person you come in contact with take the brunt of your anger. It reflects badly on you, and it’s likely that whatever went wrong wasn’t their fault. Maybe all good manners just go back to the golden rule: do onto others as you would have them do unto you. You may, infact, find that good manners will turn into good money. So listen to your mother and mind your manners. It’s the little things that add up to making a great impression with every encounter. Focus, smile, listen. It doesn’t take much these days.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Self Development

Why Your Professional Persona Matters

You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.

Timothy Sykes

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For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.

Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.

How do I develop a professional persona?

It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.

Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.

Create a self fulfilling prophecy

Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.

But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.

Related: 25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

Focus on what’s important

When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.

Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.

Make yourself indispensable

One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.

For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.

Be taken more seriously

A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.

Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.

You’ll get more followers

More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.

When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.

Develop a thicker skin

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.

Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Company Posts

6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset

What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.

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A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.

1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results

The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.

A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.

2. Press the reset button for the new year

The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.

Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.

Related: Many SMEs Start With Great Plans But Fail To Take The Big Leap

3. Take small incremental steps

The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.

4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself

Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.

Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.

5. Remember that no goal is static

One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.

Related: Organisational Design Disruptions Do Not Occur In A Vacuum: Future Business Models

6. Your top tool is in your head

It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.


Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?

ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit www.accaglobal.com for more information.

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Self Development

Taking Care Of Mental Health Is Powerful, Not Weak

Charlamagne Tha God talks success, anxiety and mental health.

Lewis Howes

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It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.

There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR – you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?

On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.

New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.

Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.

Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.

Related: The Business Of Anxiety In Business: Giving Heroes Permission To Feel Vulnerable

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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