I have been freelancing for around 9 months and this involves dealing with various individuals from various companies on a daily basis. One moment I may be talking to the receptionist of a cleaning firm, the next a director for a large printing business. I’ve met many, many types of people in trades that I never knew existed, but one thing you can be sure of; business etiquette is generally not taken into consideration as much as it probably should be.
Business is formed on good relationships, therefore it is very important that as a provider or a buyer, that you make and sustain a good impression. Always write emails as you would a letter – correctly, checked for punctuation and spelling and an appropriate closing statement.
Business etiquette for web developers like me is always a tough one – I am always the provider and I sometimes feel that I am being talked down to by others who have been in business as many years as I have been alive. Dinosaurs, I mean. What I have come to find is that a firm but fair attitude backed up with real organisation and planning can earn you a lot of respect.
Put it this way – if you were being sold something and the seller was a disorganised fool who can barely string a sentence together, would you be convinced? This runs even deeper if a relationship is being formed rather than a 2 minute transaction. I think the ethics of good business relationships are just like the elements that bind other relationships together; treat others how you wish to be treated.
I once heard the story of a web developer receiving an enquiry for a new website. This lead to approximately 30 emails and various phone calls being exchanged between provider and buyer, only for the prospective client to just halt contact. No reason was given and no purchase was made. As far as I am concerned this is terrible business practice – even if the buyer had decided to pull out of the project surely it wouldn’t be so hard to mention this in an email.
So from what I have learnt over the past year I can quite comfortably say that good spelling and grammar, addressing your recipient politely and displaying some form of pro-active organisation can go a heck of a long way in business, and this way everybody is happy.