Dead-fish handshake and fish at your desk among pet peeves

Bad habits could make or break your business. Whether it's a limp-wristed handshake or a cleavage-popping blouse, there are so many ways to ruin that first impression with a business contact.

Bad habits could make or break your business. Whether it's a limp-wristed handshake or a cleavage-popping blouse, there are so many ways to ruin that first impression with a business contact.

Business etiquette expert Danielle Di-Masi says lasting impressions are made instantly and in the business world it's crucial to make a good first impression.

"If you're trying to connect with someone in a meeting and you can't make the impression that you want because of what you're doing or what your body is doing subconsciously, the story in someone else's mind is going against you," she says.

Di-Masi surveyed more than 400 business executives on their pet peeves. These are the top 10:

1. The "dead fish handshake". More than 40 per cent of respondents said they would think less of someone professionally if they gave a limp-wristed handshake. Another 25 per cent went even further and said they would think less of the person personally.

"When you think you only have seven seconds to make a first impression, this is not the impression you want to leave!" says Di-Masi.

2. Not RSVPing. Not contacting someone to say you can or can't attend an event is enough for some professionals to write you off completely. Even worse is saying you can go and then not turning up.

3. Unmanned mobiles. Don't leave your mobile phone unattended on a desk where it either rings or vibrates constantly, annoying everyone in the vicinity. It gives the impression you are disorganised and insensitive to other people's working spaces.

4. Smelly food in the office. What you eat is your business - just don't make it everyone else's. If it's fishy, spicy or got a lot of garlic in it, don't eat it al desko.

5. Bad punctuality. Don't make being late a habit. But if you are running late and it's out of your control, phone ahead. On the flipside, don't be too early either. Aim to be three to five minutes early for a meeting. Anything before that and you may put pressure on others when they aren't ready.

6. Inappropriate work attire. Skirts that are way too short and suits circa 1972 all spell unprofessionalism.

"Girls, just because the sales girl at Cue says it's 'cute' does not mean your client will think so also," Di-Masi says. "And guys - iron your entire shirt!"

7. Disorganised meetings and interviews. Not preparing for meetings, which others have set time aside for, is a sure-fire way to frustrate. Don't expect the same people to work with you in the future if you cannot get your act together.

8. Phubbing. Phubbing (playing with your phone too much) at networking events or meetings is akin to yelling: "I don't care!"

"Although you may be tweeting great comments about the event to your wider network, some may still perceive this as not being interested and bratty," says Di-Masi.

9. Poor hygiene. A clean appearance and well-mannered behaviours are essential to making a winning impression.

"Be mindful of playing with your hair too much, biting your fingernails or eating with your mouth open," says Di-Masi.

"Some people may not want to stand too close or shake your hand after watching these behaviours."

10. Coming to work sick. Go to bed. Your workmates don't want your germs, no matter how pressing their deadlines.

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