I work with very smart people. I've asked these clients, vendors, friends, and family for their one best business tip - the one thing they have figured out that has made a difference in their working life - and these are the tips they gave me.

Listen to your employees, and when you think you've heard enough, listen some more. If they believe they've been heard, they'll support you even if they disagree with some of your choices, and you'll learn a heck of a lot.

Eve Epstein

I make a point of hand delivering my work. Just the fact of being in the office gets me quite a few new introductions and moves me to the top of the food chain if there is an assignment in the works in the cubicle next door.

Charlie Kloppenburg

Take all calls, or don't take any when you're extremely busy. Screening phone calls irritates everyone, whether they get through or not. Return calls as promptly as possible and acknowledge all communication. There's no percentage in getting people ticked off at you.
Gary McDonald
Managing Director
C and G Marketing LLC

Excellent service leads to multiple sales.
David Kroger

I believe strongly in returning phone calls or messages immediately, even if you do not have the answer right then. This will only breed respect and dependability. It helps in creating new and maintaining old business relationships.
Kristine Lockard

Always work with people who are smarter than you are. This rule has never failed me and I attribute any professional success I have had to it. I've also met some wonderful people along the way.
Karen Whitman

Always, always, always return a customers phone call as soon as possible. I know from experience that if a client has taken the time to actually call me on the phone they have a 'right now' need. I have made many sales transactions simply because I returned a phone call promptly. You've heard the expression, 'the early bird gets the worm', well it is the very same principle. Customers need answers and help right now.
Doug Martin

Don't handle a piece of paper more than once.
Ancil Nance

One of the hazards of getting things done under deadline in a large organization is that people keep stopping in your office to chat - not necessarily social chitchat (although there is quite a lot of that) but usually something that does not have to be discussed immediately. This was hard for me because, although I love to chat, I often had to work under a deadline. I did not want to offend people by telling them to go away but I discovered another solution. I found a piece of stiff cardboard about 4 x 4 feet wide and wrote the word "NO!" on it in very large, very black letters. Whenever I had to get something done by a certain time, I would put it up in a conspicuous place just inside the door of my office. The wonderful thing is that everyone respected it and noone was offended. Everyone knew that when Bob has his NO! sign up they should stay away (unless what they had to say was that the building was on fire, or something
like that).
Bob Peirce

When a project seems overwhelming, scribble down all the steps that need to be done, in as much detail as time permits. Then, put each step in sequence or priority. Then, do the first step on the list. This gets you started, and makes the whole project seem like a bunch of little steps, instead of one big one. Under promise, then over deliver. This means predict a project budget, then come in under it. Estimate a project duration, then complete it early.
Jim Mitchell

"Speak Truth to Power" - this is a Quaker motto that has proven invaluable for dealing with a lifetime of office politics.
Anne Dickason

Accountability is a great thing. If you tell a customer you are going to do something, you better do it! Nothing in business says 'I'm not reliable' more than making a promise and not keeping it. Of course, this means you should never tell your customers you can do something that is beyond your capabilities.
Doug Martin
Sales and Marketing Technical Imaging Services

1. You can't have too many friends--so make as many as you can today.
2. You can't know too much about your business--so learn as much as you can today.
3. You never know when something you do today may have an effect--tomorrow, next week,or six months from now--so keep at it today. The single thing that helped me the most in my own career was joining a technical society related to the metals industry. I made more friends and learned more from that activity than I ever could have by sitting at my desk and listening to co-workers.
Jeff Wilson

In business and in personal life, one of my favorite sayings is this: Just as the Snow Goose need not bathe to make itself white, Neither need you do anything but be yourself. Point being, one is so much more credible, respectable, confident and successful in life as a natural, honest player -- not a made-up imposter. I hope my clients are hiring me because they like an honest, direct, confident approach to their business.
Claudia Johnson

Persistence (but with professionalism). Not pushy but just continually staying in contact with your customer/prospect to share new ideas, cost saving opportunities. Have a reason to keep in contact with them. Follow up/Follow through. Don't drop the ball.
Barry Davis

I sold print ads for so long, where we were just about the only game in town, but now I'm selling web ads, where there is lots of competition, so, I've learned that "The only unique product I can offer my customer is me, so I'd better make myself indispensible."
Terry Boyd

In terms of managing people, I think this holds true... generally, "The most you can expect, is the least you're willing to accept." Generally people learn what the standard is and work to it, if the standard is set low, more often than not, people won't stretch although they're most likely capable of much more. Look for the middle ground. Too often we try to deal in absolutes, which tend to exclude vs. looking for the middle ground to provide a solution that's acceptable to both/all parties.
Ann Baynton

Remember, that people stay reached like your lawn stays mowed. You have to be heard frequently to stand out in the crowded marketplace. Radio affords advertisers the opportunity to distinguish themselves.
Monica Cory

1.Know your client an the nature of his business, and the RESPONSIBLE person to contact if problems occur.
2. Have a clear understanding of your relationship and your responsibilities.
3. Establish clear time lines, if appropriate, for performance- both for you and, when required, for your client
4. Confirm, in writing, the agreed upon fee schedule- for new clients, and when making special arrangements with an established client. This is particularly important if the project may take several weeks or months to complete
5. Bill promptly UPON COMPLETION OF THE WORK-WITHIN 10 DAYS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Memory is a fragile thing.
6. Avoid extending due dates for A/R. Send polite reminders after 30 days, and a stronger demand letter after 60 day with an attached copy of your earlier letter confirming the fee arrangement. Clients in trouble often use their accounts payable as interest free loans.
John McLaughlin

"People do business with and buy from people they like and trust. Those two ingredients are essential to every successful business relationship."
Linda Narz

Client relationships can be formed from all areas of your life. Nurture and balance your professional and personal life so when an opportunity becomes available, you'll be fresh and open to it.
Christine Thompson

Maintain a work environment such that your employees enjoy what they do and who they work with and for. Work is one third of their life. Let it be more rewarding than a paycheck. Employees who look forward to spending time on the job make the best workers. Do whatever you can to make your customers satisfied. Positive customer service goes a long way.
Ron Burian

Always be able to back up what you tell a client with legitimate facts or supportive information. If you don't know the answer to a question, don't try to BS your way through it. Say you don't know but that you will find the answer for them. Then get back to them with the answer ASAP. My credibility is all I have to sell. If I lose it I am out of business.
Lon Snider