OK, now, which fork do I use?

I made it out to Lunch Ann Arbor Marketing (LA2M) again this week. I had been missing it for many months and it wasn’t until I happened to drop in recently that I remembered how great the presentations can be. Now, I felt particularly compelled to attend this week’s gathering as my good friend Josephine Nicholas of Insert Catchy Headlines. She is a PR Agent and a certified etiquette instructor.

Now, you would think that having lunch with an etiquette instructor might be a little stressful. After all, what if you accidentally use the wrong fork?

Actually, Josephine is a genuine delight. In her opinion, the only reason for etiquette is to make the other person feel comfortable. In fact, she’s never told me as much, but she would probably say that pointing out bad etiquette would be bad etiquette.

At any rate, her presentation was just as interesting and informative as I’ve come to expect from LA2M. She spent the first talking about some aspects of personal branding. I loved the concept of branding yourself with humility. When it comes time to talk about your accomplishments, she recommends less focus on yourself and more focus on the team, or the collaborators, or the facilitators. By bragging about those with whom you are associated, you make them look good (which makes them appreciate you more) and by association, you make yourself look good.

I love this stuff because it fits very well into my own beliefs about good networking practice. The focus should almost always be on the other person.

The latter part of Josephine’s talk dwelt on the use of etiquette in personal branding. As she pointed out, no matter how good you are at your business, it does no good if no one can stand to be around you because you  can’t behave in a courteous manner. Rude people make others uncomfortable. She mentioned several specific points about good etiquette, but one of the ones that really stood out to me was regarding inviting someone to any sort of event, whether it’s a Chamber Lunch or a one-to-one over coffee:

As a part of the invitation, always make it clear who is paying.

I wold even go a step further than that: If you are inviting someone as your guest, you are paying.

She had a lot more great information about branding, etiquette, and protocol when dealing with the media. You can watch the whole presentation over at the LA2M archive page. Be sure to check it out.

In the meantime, remember that good etiquette, like good networking is always about the other person. As long as you keep their comfort and success in mind you probably won’t go wrong.

Photo credit: Kerryn du Plessis