Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre

Two of my colleagues asked me to write a post about professional courtesy, as they are sick of clients booking appointments and cancelling at the last minute or no showing. This led to this broader post on 7 tips to avoid damaging your business relationships (before they’ve even started).

Tip 1) Show up!
If you arrange a meeting, even if it’s free, or ‘just’ a coffee meeting, show up … on time! Not showing up is a sign of disrespect and displays a lack of professionalism. We all know Sydney traffic can be a nightmare. That’s why I checked what time I need to allow extra because of the accidents on the way to my next appointment. If you do get held up, as early as possible let the other party know. If an emergency crops up, let the person know straight away, even if an initial heads up ‘I may not be able to make it’. Give the person a chance to do something else while they wait.

Tip 2) Do what you say
If you say you will follow up do so. I know sometimes I let this slip when I get snowed, BUT I know I should always be letting the person know. Don’t miss out on starting an amazing relationship, because you didn’t do the extras after the meeting.

Tip 3) Let the other person talk
I had a meeting recently with someone I was considering for referral work. She kept cutting me off and not letting me answer her questions. She made me feel uncomfortable and frustrated – no way would I now refer clients to her, in case they also felt that way!

Tip 4) Treat others how you want to be treated
Once time is lost, it’s gone forever. In small business last minute cancellations cost a lot, often the owner’s ability to take a salary that week. Make sure you only cancel if it is a genuine need, not because you can’t be bothered going out on a cold day!

Tip 5) LinkedIn and Social Media messaging
Please adhere to group rules and etiquette, and don’t aggressively sell to people. Be careful that you’re also not breaching the electronic communications messaging of the Spam Act 2003. If a Facebook Group expressly has no messages allowed, then it would be hard to say you have implicit consent to message that person.

Establishing a friendly connection on LinkedIn is fine, but not aggressive phone calls and messages, and then email lists. Also on LinkedIn, I hate fake skill endorsing. It makes me question the person’s values around honesty and integrity.

Tip 6) Don’t be a business card pusher
Don’t go to a network meeting and thrust your card in people’s faces. It’s a sure fire way to turn people off. Take time to get to know people, and provide/make a swap when asked.

Tip 7) Email lists
Do NOT automatically add people to your mailing list! You’re asking to be labelled as spam, which is often worse than being reported to ACMA! Eventually you risk getting blacklisted with the internet providers.

It can be tricky to navigate the minefield of online and offline networking when first starting out. Feel free to reach out to an advisor for some guidance.

Business Connect
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