Neels & Company - Candor. Insight. Success.

The Elegant Executive
Vol. 2, Issue 3                            March 2011

Quick Links

Business Card Case

Ordering Wine




Total Image Management Seminar
Wednesday, May 4th
Location: The Ritz-Carlton,
Pentagon City

Total Image Management is our proprietary approach to helping professional women manage the impression they make on others.


Click here for more information.


Register before March 31st and save $100!



Announcing our newest

in-house training program:


Too Casual for Comfort - What Business Casual Should Really Look Like


If a disconnect exists between your organiza-tion's image in the marketplace and the image your employees are putting forth, it's time to get everyone on the same page with this half-day seminar which covers the basics of dressing for a job where a suit isn't required but professionalism is.


The season of flip-flops is upon us. Help your staff understand what's expected at your firm in this fun and informative learning event. Call for details and pricing:



Contact Us

Gretchen Neels
Neels & Company
P. O. Box 33937
Washington, DC 20033
Welcome to The Elegant Executive


The Elegant Executive is a free monthly newsletter offering tips, strategies and advice to enhance the softer side of one's career. We hope you find it useful, and that you'll share it with colleagues wanting to increase business by "looking the part" and connecting with others more successfully.

DressBack to Basics
Five KeysFive Keys

Five KeysIf I promised you that five small steps could greatly improve your client relationships, would you believe me? Millions of books are sold each year guaranteeing significant results by doing any number of things: learning what kind of personality your client has and mimicking it, or by taking a test and aligning yourself with others with the same characteristics, etc.


In re-reading Peter Rouse's book, "Every Relationship Matters," it occurred to me that by going back to the five basics - recognition, attention, honesty, listening and being on time, one can rise head and shoulders above the competition. Seems simple, and it is.


Recognition - clients want to know that you recognize and acknowledge them. Make it your policy to return calls and email as soon as you can. If you have to wait for information, be pro-active and let your client know you received their request and when they can expect an answer.


How many times have you sent an email message or left a voice mail, only to think a few days later, "Did Joan ever get my message?" Don't make people wonder - get back to them.


Attention - give 100%. When you are speaking with a client on the phone, turn your email off, and resist the urge to do anything other than concentrate on the call. People know when you are distracted because we as humans can't really do two things at once, and we end up saying things like "I'm sorry, what did you say?" - a dead giveaway!


Likewise, in person, you must be completely tuned in. This means your gizmos are off, and your eyes and ears are on your client. Be sure you maintain good eye contact and that you summarize and clarify as necessary, ensuring clear communication.


Honesty - do what you say, when you say you're going to do it. So many of us make small promises, such as telling someone we will send an article or a link to a website, make an introduction, or refer business to them, and fail to follow through. While these might be minor things, they add up.


Be someone your clients can count on, for the big things and the little things. Your reputation is on the line, regardless of the scale of the promise. Let's face it, if you can't follow through on the small things, how will you deliver on larger matters?


Listen - be diligent about staying in the moment and being present. Everyone wants to be heard, including your clients. Lending an ear can sometimes be the most valuable thing you can provide at that moment.


You don't necessarily have to fix the problem, have the answer or know the next step when it comes to whatever your client is grappling with, at that moment. Simply listening and repeating back what you are hearing shows care and concern, and may very well open the door to some creative problem solving. 


Be On Time - this takes effort, but is essential to being a professional. It's connected to all the other points above.  Being on time shows respect for others.  Being late is often interpreted as having no concern for other people and being totally self-involved.


Make a point to arrive early to meetings, luncheons, networking events, etc., and you will begin to be known as the person who is early! That translates into being known as the person who is always ready to take on projects and get things done.




Elegant Accessory of the Month
Lodis card case

Business Card Case

Last week I attended a networking function where business cards were traded between new and seasoned professionals alike. I stopped short, however, when a very polished human resources exec pulled out a stack of cards held together with a thick rubber band. What an impression!


Presenting one's credentials in the form of a business card should start with producing a tailored and tidy card case. I like the "Aubrey Mini Card Case" from Lodis, available in red, aqua, carmel, lime, black and orchid for $32.00. Described as "refined and elegant," this smooth leather case features a double magnetic closure and holds 30 cards.


CommunicationElegant Communication Tip of the Month
Wine glass

Ordering Wine for the Business Meal
Many business people cringe when it comes time to order wine for the table when entertaining clients. Some don't understand how to read a wine list, while others are unsure of how to handle the tasting ritual. This is unfortunate, because ordering wine with confidence and enthusiasm is a great way to make your clients feel special while you take charge. 

In my seminar, Restaurant Savvy and Ordering Wine for the Business Meal, we cover the fundamentals of the three big whites (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) and the three big reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), tasting and discussing the qualities and characteristics of each. Once people get familiar with what wine expert Andrea Immer calls the "Six Big Grapes," it's quite easy to order an appropriate selection, based on the three Ps: Purpose, Preference and Price.

Get to know the six grapes listed above so that the next time you're entertaining dinner guests, you'll be able to order wine with confidence, and then relax and enjoy your role as a most elegant host.

Click here to download a free pdf copy of The Tasting Ritual.

Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.