Let me vent for a minute. I promise there is a potential huge pay off for you.

About a month ago, I got an email out of the blue from a semi-big deal guy I had never met. He said he admired my work and had an intriguing project that would be right for me. He was going to be in New York for Thanksgiving. Was there anyway for us to meet?

I said no. I was having my family in. But I would be happy to travel out to see him in the Midwest before the end of the year. He said there was no time to waste

So, the day after Thanksgiving I headed off for a meeting in midtown.

On the way to the meeting, he changed the location. No big deal. These things happen.

He said he would meet me in the lobby of his fancy-smancy hotel--and didn't.

And it was clear that he was distracted throughout our meeting where he took two phone calls and was rude to the staff.

Still, the project sounded interesting. I did a proposal and he promptly took my ideas and gave them to someone else to do the work.


Yes, he was a jerk. And yes I am annoyed. But there is a bigger point here.

Business is about relationships. This guy got to me through a buddy of mine--someone who I have told this story to. And my buddy, in turn, has told the story to a lot of people who do--or who are thinking about doing--business with the jerk.

There is no guarantee that this is going to hurt Mr. Jerk's business. But it sure isn't going to help it.

All this got me to remember an article that ran in the magazine Family Business a few years back. The writer, a former colleague of mine, Jayne A. Pearl, talked to the folks at The Emily Post Institute, which is, in Jayne's words still "defining propriety for the masses."

And the Institute provided ten ideas about how you begin to create a business relationship.

Their list:

1. Be on time.

2. Remember to say "please;" "thank you;" and "you're welcome.

3. Be prepared.

4. Be aware you are representing your company in your attire, attitude and efforts.

5. Harness the power of the sincere compliment.

6. Pay complete attention in meetings.

7. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Apologize and offer a solution.

8. Recognize that your actions outside of work affect you and your organization.

9. Send handwritten thank-you notes for gifts, meals, favors done for you, and big opportunities.

10. Embrace and use the principles of etiquette: Consideration, respect and honesty.

Clearly, there is more to creating a business relationship than these 10 things. But you need to start with the basics.

Mr. Jerk didn't.

Although I have to concede he dressed well.