Business etiquette is socially and professionally acceptable behavior — truly the art of making others comfortable around you. Review each section below and know that your professionalism reflects not only on you, but also the CDC, your academic department and NC State.
- You can never overuse the simple pleasantries of “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”.
- Use the same firm handshake with both men and women.
- Prepare a brief introduction. Rise if seated to make that introduction.
- Address others formally, “Mr. Davis” – until you are invited to use a first name.
- Be a good listener. Ask questions to show interest.
- Be ready for casual conversations (current events, travel, sports, weather) – yet remain professional.
- Remain neutral with controversial topics (politics, religion).
- Be appreciative of the time others spend with you.
- Turn cell phone off during all interactions with employers.
- Check messages in private if expecting an urgent call.
- Create a professional voice mail message.
- Receive an unexpected call from an employer? Let it go to voicemail, if the time is not right. Return the call as soon as possible.
- Check important emails twice before sending to employers and faculty. Measure twice, cut once!
- Use a professional greeting – “Mr. Davis” vs. “Hey” or “David” (unless you have been invited to use a first name).
- Use proper punctuation, no abbreviations.
- Sign email with complete name. Add a signature to provide details (NC State, major, grad date, and any special distinction such as leadership).
- Attach a resume titled “Margot Allen Resume” vs. “Resume”.
Social media etiquette
- Create positive content — showcase your individuality and uniqueness.
- Remove anything you would not want potential employers to view.
- Google yourself: clean out poor content. Use Brand Yourself https://
brandyourself.com/to improve results.
- Avoid broadcasting every minute of your life: it’s not all about you.
- Be prompt; arrive 5-10 min. early.
- Make a great first impression – appropriate attire, good posture, smile, enthusiasm.
- Be friendly and respectful to all you meet.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Follow the cues others.
- Think positively and answer positively – maintain professionalism at all times.
- Thank the interviewer for their time.
Interview follow-up etiquette
- Send a thank you note within 24 hours.
- Let them know if you have a deadline to meet.
- Feel free to follow up with the employer if you have not heard back.
Social or professional event etiquette
- Wear nametag (when provided) on your right upper chest/shoulder.
- Greet the host within the first 15 min.
- Meet others to make the most of the event — join a group or introduce yourself to someone standing alone.
- Focus on conversations, even with distractions.
- Ask for business cards if you would like to follow up.
- Enjoy food and drink but do not overdo.
- Thank host before leaving.
- Place napkin in lap when seated. If you get up, leave napkin folded to the left of your plate.
- Order a medium-priced item that is easy to eat. Can’t decide? Ask your host for suggestions.
- Order a non-alcoholic beverage.
- Participate in conversations but do not let your guard down. This is still an interview.
- Wait for everyone at the table to be served before starting, unless you are encouraged to do so.
- Be familiar with a typical place setting. Work from the outside in. Salad first — use the outside fork.
- Take small bites so you can talk. Never speak with your mouth full.
- Rest utensils between bites, horizontally across plate.
- When finished with a course, leave your plate in its original location (do not stack or move dishes).
- Place napkin slightly folded to the left of your plate and push in your chair when leaving.
- Thank the host and guests.