Etiquette Tips

Business Etiquette (adapted from KPMG)

Ten Ways to Make a Positive First Impression:

  1. Look and act friendly and approachable
  2. Project a polished professional appearance
  3. Smile ~ act like you mean it
  4. Maintain eye contact when appropriate
  5. Offer a confident handshake
  6. Stand tall and walk with a purpose
  7. Use a person’s name during your conversation
  8. Listen with more than your ears ~ be observant
  9. Develop the art of small talk
  10. Say “Please, Thank you, Excuse me and I’m sorry” often


The Handshake – The Proper Shake:

  • Comes with eye contact
  • Is firm but painless
  • Lasts about three seconds
  • Take between two and five “pumps”
  • Starts and stops crisply
  • Doesn’t continue through the entire introduction
  • Is always made with your right hand, even if you are left-handed, unless you are physically disabled

When to Shake:

  • Someone offers his/her hand to you
  • First time meeting someone
  • Greeting guests
  • Greeting your host/hostess
  • Renewing an acquaintance
  • Saying good-bye

Helpful Tips:

  • Always try to hold your drink in your left hand, keeping your right hand free should someone walk up and introduce him/herself.
  • If your hands are cold and clammy, do not mention it. It will only take the attention away from your introduction.
  • If seated, always stand to shake hands (men and women).



  • Your image on e-mail is as important as your image on the phone or in person.
  • Employers can, and do, monitor e-mail & internet activity
  • Allow 2-3 days for a response
  • If it is important, leave a phone message as well
  • Always proofread and spellcheck
  • Watch your tone, as many things can be misunderstood
  • Include a subject, salultation, and closing – like a memo
  • Do not e-mail formal documents
  • Do not use web jargon


Social Situations – “Making Small Talk”Appropriate Topics:

  • Family or home life
  • Job or career
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Pets
  • Sports
  • Comedians and celebrities
  • Vacations
  • Music
  • Interesting everyday topics

Inappropriate Topics:

  • Money (Salary, bonus, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Asking how much something costs
  • Asking about other candidates
  • Asking about or sharing confidential client information
  • Health/Weight/Diets
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Politics
  • Overly-personal questions


  • Cursing
  • Jokes in bad taste
  • Ethnic slurs
  • Negative comments (about the reception/dinner or about the client)
  • Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages
  • Eating while standing
  • Speaking negatively about your firm (or other firms), clients, the profession or if in a recruiting setting, the competition
  • Being late or leaving early
  • PDA – “Public Displays of Affection”