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Founder Interviewed by Johnstown’s Tribune-Democrat

Founder of The Etiquette Network, Jacquelyn Flesner, was recently interviewed by Regina Abel, Lead Ecomonic Development Specialist for the US Small Business Administration in Western Pennsylvania for an article featured in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. We hope you’ll take a moment to read the article below and possibly glean a helpful tip or two!

>Growing up, I’ve always been told “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

That adage holds true for everyone – especially business owners.
In the age of instant messaging and constant contact, practicing proper protocol seems as outdated as owning a rotary telephone. To help entrepreneurs brush up on their business mannerisms, I contacted Jacquelyn Flesner, a certified, card-carrying etiquette expert and founder of The Etiquette Network.

For the past three years, she’s been messaging good manners to individuals and organizations helping people put their best foot forward versus in their mouth.

An actress by trade, Flesner transitioned to corporate America becoming an Executive Director for a direct sales company where she was responsible for inspiring, training and motivating an all-volunteer sales force into polished professionals.

While Flesner now has a heightened awareness of etiquette, in her teens and early 20s, she admitted to making politeness faux pas that would have placed her mannerism marks at a four on a scale of 10. She now strives to encourage individuals that today’s etiquette is more about making contemporaries feel at ease versus following a set of rules. “When you address individuals, take yourself out of the equation – become others-focused versus self-centered,” she explained. “Listening is a learned skill, strive to listen 80 percent of the time and determine their needs versus your wants.”

During introductions and business card swaps, she suggests taking a moment to actually read business cards – noting company names and individual titles. “After introductions, make sure you repeat their name at least three times during your conversation and maintain eye contact,” Flesner explained. “First, it [repetition] serves as a memory tool and secondly addressing individuals by their name is a very genuine act as people love to hear their name in conversation.”

And, if you know a prominent personality, Flesner advises not flaunting it. “There always is an individual who tries to one-up everyone else by name-dropping their connections — it actually becomes annoying and isn’t helpful in building business relationships.”

Flesner firmly believes in quality versus quantity, when counting connections. “I personally only give out a card if someone asks me or if I make a connection,” she stated. “One good lead per event actually should be considered a success.”

According to Flesner, etiquette abounds even after you’ve collected that coveted card. “If you swap a business card, you need to send an email or hand-written note stating what a pleasure it was to meet and to suggest a follow-up conversation,” she added. “Follow-up is key. I make a point to say ‘hello’ to my contacts when I see them at future events because you certainly don’t want them to perceive your connection as one-and-done.”

And, as tough as it sounds, Flesner advises stowing electronic devices while networking. “We rely on electronics so much that face-to-face communication has become a lost art,” she said. “Good communication skills can lead to higher incomes — polished individuals know that refined interpersonal skills is what it takes to make a deal.”