Business Etiquette Still Matters in a Casual New Business World

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In recent years, business has become very casual. Gone are the work days of suits, stationary, big titles, corner offices, secretaries, and power lunches. Small business is now done through email, video chats, texting, meet ups, social media and casual attire.

However, business etiquette still matters and can be a competitive advantage for you. Here’s how:


How you look still matters. While John T. Molloy’s classic “Dress for Success” maybe outdated, someone who is dressed too sloppy or casual will still not be trusted as much as a person that is dressed as well as their customer.

Appropriate attire choices also must be made for video chats, unless you want to show your customer your workout outfit.


Since so much of communication is done in a short, informal manner, there is greater chance of miscommunication. Being able to write effective email communications is still an important skill and requires increased practice.

This can be done by sending an email to a customer and then following up immediately by phone to make sure that they understood exactly what you wrote.


A lot can be learned by having a meal with a business associate. People can win or lose a deal, promotion or job based on their table manners. This doesn’t necessarily mean using the right fork, but still includes RSVPs, keeping your napkin on your lap, elbows off the table, and chewing with your mouth closed.

Not sure of your habits? Have a friend take note at your next lunch.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

More companies are not issuing smart phones, but instead are having employees bring their own smart phones. As a result, personal and business data are mixing on the same device.

It is critical to set the rules in advance as to what type of access the employer has for inspection of that device and whether it can be wiped cleaned when that employee leaves.


More small companies are doing business in different countries. They need to be aware of various business and dining customs, business hierarchies, displays of affection and alcohol use. Important customs vary by country and culture.

Social Networking

Many small business owners and employees have separate social media sites for business and personal use. However, their brand image on both sites need to be consistent since customers will do a Web search that will cover all of them. Personal and professional lives can no longer be practically separated.

Also, remember that different generations will prefer different etiquette. This will add to its overall complexity. A great guide for the small business owner is the 2014 version of Emily Post’s, “The Etiquette Business Advantage.”

What business etiquette is most important to you?

Clown Photo via Shutterstock

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Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

6 Reactions
  1. I write hundreds of emails every week and it’s important that you communicate clearly with clients. Using the wrong wording can lead to misunderstanding and can cost you clients.

    • That’s right. I also exercise the 5-sentence rule as much as I can. The shorter, the better.

    • If I’m given the choice of communicating by email or phone especially with a first time client, my preference is to use the phone. It begins to build a relationship and makes you stand out from the crowd.