Guest Post: Young Women’s Alliance
Once a month, the Young Women’s Alliance hosts a Saturday Session. These sessions are similar to their monthly meetings but are smaller (less than 20 people) and much more interactive. Below is a blog that Cassandra Harrison of the YWA posted after I had the pleasure of joining them for January’s Saturday Session.
Etiquette. I think we can all agree it’s something that is a bit lacking in our society. But it’s still a skill that is highly valued, particularly in the business world. On Saturday, January 19th, several YWA members attended a Saturday Session with Sharon M. Schweitzer, JD, to brush up on their etiquette skills.
Now this wasn’t a ‘which fork goes with which meal’, ‘which red wine with what entrée’ event – not that I couldn’t personally use that help - but rather we learned about those little etiquette skills that you don’t think about, like appropriate eye contact in the workplace. Do you know where and how to look at your boss during a conversation? It’s the eye triangle – from direct eye contact through the middle of the forehead. Don’t look below the nose and definitely not below the neck.
Here’s another one: handshakes. Ladies, this is where we need to beef it up. Don’t be afraid to shake the man’s hand, firmly. You rock, let him know it! Don’t crush his hand, but don’t do the limp fish either. Web hand to web hand, shake from elbow, other arm straight to your side. Two pumps but Texans can get away with three or four, because well, we’re friendlier.
I’ll give you some more freebies.
- Handshakes are the only appropriate workplace interaction. I know we ladies like to hug. But let the boss go for it first. Here’s another thing – all the power is with whoever shakes first. So get in there!
- We’re a more casual society but avoid defaulting to first names in conversation AND in email, unless invited.
- Never hi or hey – always HELLO. As your grandma always said, ‘hay’ is for horses.
- Speaking of names – introduce yourself with your full name, not just your first. Donald Trump doesn’t say, “Hey, how you doing? I’m Donald.” Neither should you.
- Nametags. Always the right side. Done.
- Eat some protein before networking event. No one wants to talk to the woman shoving cheese bites in her mouth.
- Business cards. Get some. Vistaprint is easy and cheap. Also, leopard print should be saved for your Saturday night stilettos. Not your business card holder. Simple and clean.
My favorite lesson was on how to break into conversations. We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation. It’s not easy and it’s a learned skill. But Sharon offered some great tips. Sorry, that’s not a freebie.
We also discussed email etiquette. I’ll give you this – avoid BCC.
Finally, the etiquette skill I think is most needed in our society – cell phone etiquette. This just takes common sense. Don’t yell, don’t leave the phone on the table, and show respect to those you are with by being present in the conversation, not checking your Facebook status. Log off and hang up.
Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman. – Coco Chanel
International Protocol Links
Sharon Schweitzer’s 8 International Travel Tips
As a road warrior who has clocked something like two million miles of business travel over the past twenty years, experience has taught me that international travel is neither glamorous nor for the faint of heart. Delays, crowds, and unappetizing food are all outside of our control. But we don’t have to let unexpected surprises add to our dismay.
As I return from my travels in Asia, I wanted to share my eight top travel tips with you (remember, 8 is an auspicious number in China!). The more of these tips you adopt, the greater your chance of having a pleasant and satisfying trip.
1. Travel Health. Allow plenty of time to schedule an appointment with a travel clinic doctor or nurse to assess your need for inoculations (see also the advisories issued on the US State Department and World Health Organization websites). Travel to certain areas of the globe requires knowledge, precautions and immunization. The 2012 Yellow Book is an excellent resource.
2. Global Entry. Consider applying to the Global Entry Program, which allows approved members to use automated kiosks in most major international U.S. airports to speed up the arrival process. Check their website here to see if you are eligible.
3. Luggage: Invest in the best luggage that you can afford. Check whether the wheels rotate 360 degrees and roll quietly over hard flooring, not just soft carpeting. Read Consumer Reports and check on-line reviews written by pilots and flight attendants for recommendations. Once you have purchased your new luggage, place a current business card inside each bag and fill in an external luggage tag with your contact details.
4. Travel & Other Documents: Make copies and laminate the photo and visa pages of your passport. Place a copy in your suitcase in the event it is mislaid and keep a second copy with you – separate from where you keep the passport itself. Pack twice as many business cards that you think you will need. Bring copies of all travel confirmations. Type all your frequent flyer numbers and memberships on a small card, laminate, and keep in your wallet – and email the information to yourself as well.
5. Hydrate: Don’t just focus on drinking water during your flight. Begin your hydration by increasing your fluid intake at least the day before. Remember that alcohol and caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee will dehydrate you. Drink plenty of bottled water throughout the flight.
6. Jet Lag Preparation: Prepare to acclimate to your destination by setting your watch to that time zone in advance. Consider bringing noise-reducing headphones on board to get sleep on the plane. Upon arrival, plan to spend time exercising or sitting in sunlight. Download soothing music, sounds of nature or “white noise” to your iPod to facilitate sleep in your hotel. Pack melatonin or natural sleep aids, if helpful. If possible, schedule a massage to ease those stiff joints.
7. What to Wear? While traveling by plane, train or automobile, consider wearing dark, comfortable, stretchable clothing for sleeping in transit, and to avoid looking rumpled upon arrival. Wear booties inside slip-on shoes or ballet slippers to avoid having to walk barefoot through security. Remember that tie-up-shoes, hard-to-remove boots and lots of jewelry, sunglasses, hats and hair accessories slow down the security process. There is a reason why frequent flyers have a priority-lane!
8. Returning Home: Be cautious with duty free perfume and liquor on return flights. When arriving into the US, once you pass through Immigration and Customs, you must claim your bags, and then re-check them for domestic connections. Carry-on bags must be cleared again through U.S. security for connecting flights; so duty free liquor or perfume over 3-4 ounces must be placed in checked bags and cannot be carried through security.
Remember: Blessed are the flexible – for they never get bent out of shape!
Tips for Concierge and Guest Services Professionals during Formula One Weekend
As our city’s finest service professionals prepare for what will likely be the biggest international event Austin has ever seen – the Formula One race, November 16-18 – I was honored to be asked to offer some international protocol and etiquette tips on behalf of the Austin Concierge and Guest Services Association. Here are some of the key points:
Before Your Guests Arrive
- 1. Email your future guests with a helpful weather report in advance of their arrival, if you can. Austin temperatures can shift so drastically that those who simply review “averages” as they pack may be woefully underprepared.
- 2. To make your welcome even more memorable and appreciated, search for a photo of your future guest (Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn Profile photos are a great source) so you can recognize him or her upon arrival.
- 3. Stock up on a variety of English breakfast teas and plenty of coffee. For many of our visitors from other cultures, coffee is king and will be enjoyed with every meal.
- 4. Consider adding international channels and publications to your menu of media offerings. Your overseas guests may feel more welcome with a copy of the International Herald Tribune or access to the BBC.
- 5. Brush up on your foreign language and multicultural skills or find those with linguistic talent to join your concierge desk for Formula One week. Even a polite phrase or two in the visitor’s language will be much appreciated. Which countries should you focus on? Circuit of the Americas has let us know that top international ticket sales have come from the following countries and territories in this order: (1) Mexico (2) Canada (3) Great Britain (4) Australia (5) Puerto Rico (6) Guatemala (7) El Salvador (8) Denmark (9) Netherlands (10) Costa Rica.
Throughout the Weekend
- 1. Expect your guests to be fighting off the effects of jet lag! Help ease their pain with plenty of bottled water and perhaps melatonin supplements, available from People’s Pharmacy or Whole Foods.
- 2. Visitors may be a thousands of miles away but their stomachs will still be operating on “home time” – at least for the first day or so. Expect your guests to be looking for food at unusual times and be prepared for that with 24-hour room service.
- 3. Avoid uncomfortable situations by gently educating your guests on local laws and ordinances. Many of them won’t have heard of a “clean air city” and may not be happy about smoking laws. Open container laws may also take them by surprise.
- 4. Update your information on restaurant options and store hours throughout the weekend as these may be different than on regular weekends.
Austinites are warm and welcoming individuals who will undoubtedly go out of their way to help make international visitors feel at home in Austin. Each of us has a part to play in gathering information on what was successful and what may need improvement for future visits. Remember, we have a ten year contract to host Formula One and an amazing opportunity to improve our ability to embrace international tourists into our community, even for just a short time.