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To be successful in business today you must have more than a law degree and a reputable law firm behind your name. Climbing that slippery ladder of success means being thoughtful and engaging with those around you. The attention you pay to detail is the main ingredient that differentiates you from evolving from a business person to a business professional. Where are you in your evolution from business person to business professional? Picture yourself in the following situations to find out: � You’ve been invited to a prearranged luncheon on a client site only to find that you are allergic to the main course being served. A business person asks the server if his meal can be replaced. A business professional plans ahead by making mention of foods that he can eat despite his allergic reaction when accepting the invitation. � You sent an e-mail message to a client only to realize that you have transposed two letters in a word. A business person hopes that the client realizes that keyboarding is not his best strength. A business professional sends a revised message correcting the error. � You are invited to a client reception with your spouse who feels uncomfortable since he will not know anyone there. A business person approaches others making sure that her spouse is next to him. A business professional briefs her spouse about individuals who have interests similar to his and then makes a point of introducing them so that her spouse can develop his networking skills. � You are meeting with a client with whom you spoke by phone one week ago. A business person goes to the meeting at the appointed time. A business professional confirms the meeting details 24 hours in advance. � You have a 3 p.m. conference call scheduled with two clients. A business person dials into the conference call at 3 p.m. A business professional dials into the call a few minutes prior to the designated time. � You meet someone whose name is difficult to pronounce. A business person avoids using the name in conversation. A business professional asks for assistance to correctly pronounce the name. � You receive a telephone call from one of your firm’s partners who asks you to join him for lunch that day at a private club which requires a coat and tie. You are wearing khakis and an open collar shirt. A business person declines the invitation due to lack of required attire. A business professional keeps a back-up suit and tie at the office. � You are hosting a meal with clients from India and would like to order filet mignon as your entree. A business person makes sure that vegetarian meals have been arranged for his clients. A business professional honors the culture of his clients by also choosing a vegetarian meal. � You are invited to your manager’s home for a casual gathering. � A business person verbally thanks her manager for being included in the get-together at the end of the evening. A business professional recognizes that a verbal thank you does not take the place of a written note. � Your assistant is on vacation and you are going to be in meetings most of the day. A business person checks voice-mail at the end of the day to prioritize which calls need to be returned. A business professional updates his voice-mail message to reflect his schedule. � You are at a business reception and are handed a bottle of beer from the bartender. A business person thanks the bartender and moves on. A business professional requests a glass for the beer. � You drop by someone’s office who makes time to talk with you. A business person gets the colleagues’ feedback and then continues to make idle conversation. A business professional gets the answer to the questions and then leaves unless he is encouraged to engage in further conversation. � You have been asked to participate in a 10 a.m. Webinar. A business person downloads the webinar as he dials into the call. A business professional does a test download the day before to avoid any unexpected delays at the time of the meeting. � You have promised a return telephone call to a client by noon and are waiting for one more document from a partner who cannot be reached. A business person returns the call to the client as soon as he has all of the information and explains the delay. A business professional keeps his word by getting back to the client a few minutes before noon and updates the client with the information he does have. If you found yourself acting like a business professional at all times, congratulations! If you chose answers like a business person in two or more of the situations, you have a little work to do. If you found yourself selecting answers like a business person in a majority of the above scenarios, prepare to polish your professional image. If you do not see the difference between a business person and a business professional, you may want to consider professional coaching. Ann Marie Sabath is the founder of At Ease Inc., a business protocol and development Manhattan training firm. She is the author of several books, including ‘Courting Business: 101 Ways For Accelerating Business Relationships.’

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