5 simple etiquette habits that help the rich get ahead

Man who spent 5 years studying millionaires

Manners matter
"You have to know how to act and how to do certain things when you're around people," writes Thomas C. Corley in his upcoming book "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life." "Self-made millionaires have mastered certain rules of etiquette that help them in social settings."

Corley would know — he spent five years researching the daily habits of 177 self-made millionaires and segmenting out what he calls "rich habits" and "poverty habits."

Will mastering these etiquette habits guarantee a fortune? Of course not. But it certainly won't hurt.

1. They send thank you cards.

"Saying thank you is a reflection of your character," Corley writes. "Don't Facebook them, Tweet them, Instagram them. Send a thank you card." When do the rich write thank you notes, and when should you? When someone remembers your birthday, refers a client to you, introduces you to an important contact, or does you or a family member a favor.

2. They remember the little details.

Rich people remember other people's birthdays, hobbies, interests, schools attended, childhood hometowns, and names of their spouses and kids. The little details matter, Corley emphasizes. They allow you to build relationships with other success-minded people, a cornerstone habit of rich people. "Gather as much information about your relationships as you can," he writes. "The more you know about people you engage with, the more ammunition you'll have in your arsenal to help you in effectively communicating with them." Remember to make hello calls and happy birthday calls. Five minutes on the phone can go a long way.

3. They have good table manners.

"Believe it or not, most people don't know how to eat," Corley writes. But, "In the adult world of the high achievers, you need to know how to eat at social settings." This means putting your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down, not starting until everyone has their food, eating at the same pace as the rest of the table, sitting straight up, and excusing yourself when you're done. If any of those came as a surprise, read up on dining etiquette rules every professional needs to know.

4. They know how to dress.

"Dress for success" is more than a catchy motto. There's a certain way to dress for work, job interviews, weddings, and formal or informal dinners — and rich people have mastered it, Corley says. In fact, as Business Insider's Dennis Green writes, "Studies have shown that wearing nice clothes in the office can affect the way people perceive you, how confident you're feeling, and even how you're able to think abstractly." In one study, "Those dressed poorly (in sweatpants and plastic sandals) averaged
a theoretical profit of $680,000, while the group dressed in suits amassed an average profit of $2.1 million. The group dressed neutrally averaged a $1.58 million profit," Green reports. Don't understand dress codes? Read about what business casual really means and how to dress like a leader in any work environment.

5. They introduce themselves properly.

Most of us don't feel confident about our ability to give a proper handshake. Wealthy people not only know how to execute an effective handshake, they've mastered other rules when it comes to making introductions — they smile, make eye contact, and ask plenty of questions about the other person, Corley explains. "In life you will be forced into situations where you will meet new people," he writes. "This is an opportunity to develop valuable relationships. Some may be your next employer, future spouse, next best friend, future co-worker, investor, or future business partner."

And first impressions matter more than you may think.


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