Neels&Company The Elegant Executive Newsletter

The Elegant Executive
Vol. 2, Issue 4                            November 2011

Quick Links

Gucci Scarf

Voicemail Messages




Style Workshop  

Our Style Workshops have been a hit all over Washington. Please call us if you are interested in helping your employees project a more professional image when it comes to dress and communication.


We're standing by, ready to help, with a two-hour fun and informative program designed to show the importance of aligning one's outside appearance with their inside aptitude.

Here is some feedback from our most recent event:


"The workshop was awesome!  I learned so much and we had so much fun!  Gretchen & Jenny were great instructors on telling us what to wear, our body shapes and what not to wear.  We also learned which colors are right for us to wear and the class participated in that portion.  I would not have missed it for anything."  


 More information here.



 Nancy Mitchell


We are thrilled that Nancy Mitchell has joined Neels & Company as Chief of Protocol and our go-to source for etiquette education! 


Nancy serves as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world's largest library and cultural center, where she was director of special events and protocol for more than two decades.


As your organization plans next year's professional development curriculum, ask these questions:


Is your sales team ready to close deals over a business dinner?


Can you be sure your associates are able to handle themselves at a meal with clients?


Can you afford not to equip your people with the skills they need to dine with grace and civility?


Call us today to learn more about our dining programs: 202-469-6765. 


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.

DressWhat's Old Is New Again

Communication in the workplace used to be easy. Some readers may remember in the days before email, one had basically three ways to connect with colleagues, customers and clients: letter, telephone or in person.


Today, business communication is primarily through email and text messaging. In place of the hours spent crafting succinct and well-written letters, we now type as quickly as we think, barely spending the time to run spell check or read for sense before hitting the send key. When we answer email, we typically only scan the message, doing our best to pick up the missing tone and context. Short and sweet means the absence of background or an explanation of the finer points. All of this leads to widespread miscommunication, of course, but I would like to comment on another unintended consequence of email: we have lost sight of how important voice-to-voice communication is when it comes to building trusting and beneficial professional relationships.


I recently gave a communications workshop to a top-notch medical sales team where we covered various ways to connect more effectively with customers. Those in the audience were young, energetic and eager to learn, not to mention extremely techno-savvy. Their questions at the beginning of the program centered around email use, such as "How can I get people to respond to my emails faster?" and "What should I do when an email exchange requires a new subject line - should I make the change or should the originator?" Another question was, "Why do older people leave me voice mail messages when it's so much more efficient to send an email or text? Is it appropriate to suggest that to a customer?"


There are generational differences in the way we choose to communicate with others at work. Baby Boomers still like to hang out at the water cooler, and Gen Xers will pick up the phone if they have something to say, while new professionals for the most part prefer the written word to the spoken. But my goal at the workshop was to show how powerful connecting with customers by voice is compared to email and texts. What's old becomes new again, and it's time to dust off Alexander Graham Bell's remarkable invention and put it back into circulation.


 Give me a moment

If you want to impress others and cultivate a relationship, start a true dialog and call them. You'll realize how important vocal tone, inflection and mannerisms are to a conversation. On the phone you will actually be able to tell when someone is using humor or sarcasm, admiration or respect. You will have the ability to direct the discussion toward a customer need, problem, or predicament, and then you can offer a solution. A well planned conversation of three minutes can replace days of endless back-and-forth email. Maybe the telephone isn't so old-fashioned after all.


Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you smile and dial: 

  • Yes, smiling on the phone comes through just as loudly as a smirk or a frown, so smile! 
  • Jot a few notes down before you place the call. This way you'll be sure not to forget any of your points, and you'll be better prepared to leave a succinct voice mail if need be.
  • Always ask if the timing of your call is convenient. Have your calendar nearby and be ready to make an appointment for a later date if you need to.
  • When you are speaking with someone, refrain from multi-tasking. Give the person on the other end your total attention and resist the urge to check your email, send a text, or eat your lunch.
  • Give to get. If you are looking to establish a strong, mutually beneficial professional relationship with someone on the phone, ask how you can help them. Experts who are willing to help others quickly become known as the "go-to" people in their fields who get lots of referrals resulting in more business.


Neels & Company MMXI All rights reserved.


Please visit our refreshed and refurbished website. If your internet presence could stand an overhaul, call the amazing people at Prime Concepts Group and let them work their magic.


Elegant Accessory of the Month
Gucci Scarf

Gucci Scarf

Fall is a great time to add a pretty scarf to a favorite outfit. Whether you work in a business casual or more formal environment, a scarf tucked inside a blouse lends polish and sophistication.


Pictured is a 28 inch square silk twill scarf by Gucci. Most square scarves are 35 or 36 inches, and can be bulky when tied close to the face. This size is perfect for wearing with a blouse or sweater. At $255 it's a splurge, but there are plenty of look alikes available for less. 


CommunicationElegant Communication Tip of the Month
Wine glass

Voice Mail Messages
Now that we've got you thinking about making more phone calls, you must give some thought to the impression your voice mail message will leave should you not connect with your party.
Nobody wants to pick up a two minute voice mail, only to hear lots of ums and ahs and eventually some garbled information. In order for you to get a call back, you'll have to be persuasive, warm and clear, and did I mention quick? Next time you need to leave a message and have it returned, follow these three steps: Telephone
Start and end your message with your name and phone number. "Hello Jerry, this is Gretchen Neels, N-e-e-l-s, at 202-469-6765, [insert short message about why you're calling]; again, it's Gretchen Neels, 202-469-6765." If Jerry didn't get my name and number at the beginning, he has another opportunity to do so without replaying the message.
Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and spell things out if your caller doesn't know who you are. Make it clear how the person should get back to you and don't rely on caller ID to store your phone number.
If you want the listener to think you are an upbeat, confident and competent professional, stand and smile when you leave your message. You may even want to keep a mirror handy to ensure you are flashing your pearly whites. Charm will ooze from the listener's earpiece, making it impossible for him not to buzz you back!

Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.