Scroll Top
19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

How Etiquette Mastery Helps Supercharge Your Personal Brand with Crystal Bailey

Using Branding to Empower Women of Color for Success in the Workplace with Minda Harts
How Etiquette Mastery Helps Supercharge Your Personal Brand with Crystal Bailey

Have you ever felt like a deer in the headlights at a fancy dinner?

You look down at your table setting and don’t even know where to begin when you see a dozen or so forks, knives, and spoons! So you look around to see if you can follow along with someone who knows the correct way to proceed.

While it might not look like it on the surface, there’s a parallel between table etiquette and your personal brand. When you’re networking, you want to follow certain protocols so that you look like you know what you’re doing and make the best impression possible.

My friend of over 10 years, Crystal Bailey, is an etiquette expert and image consultant who puts the “pro” in protocol. She works with a wide-ranging clientèle of executives, professionals, and diplomats in-person and virtually. And I’ve invited her to the show to discuss best etiquette practices for any fine dining or networking event.

In this episode of the Branding Room Only podcast, you’ll learn about how mastering etiquette can impact your brand. You’ll discover etiquette mistakes to avoid, how to best respond when someone breaches protocol, how to keep your brand consistent, and more!

1:45 – Crystal defines personal branding, describes herself in three words, and reveals her favorite quote and hype song

6:06 – The duality of Crystal’s life and how she became an etiquette expert

11:43 – Communication mistakes people frequently make in the etiquette space and a major shift in etiquette practice post-pandemic

13:49 – The proper way to use your eating utensils and napkin at the fine dining table

16:40 – How to approach food and drink consumption and handshaking while you network

20:49 – How teaching etiquette to kids differs from teaching it to adults

22:40 – How Crystal approaches cultural differences in how people eat and act during her in-home lessons

24:32 – When ignoring social mores can become a dealbreaker and the best way to let someone know they’ve broken etiquette protocol

29:40 – How Crystal pivoted during the pandemic, the biggest mistake she sees people make when networking, and how to remain consistent with your brand

35:46 – Why Crystal gets such joy out of being a solo traveler and how it helps her business

38:43 – The one brand aspect Crystal will never compromise on and how joy plays into her Branding Room Only magic

Connect With Crystal Bailey

Crystal L. Bailey is an etiquette expert, image consultant, and director of The Etiquette Institute of Washington in Washington, D.C. She assists individuals in refining their executive presence, networking savvy, and fine-dining finesse. Trained by Debrett’s of London and certified by The London Image Institute, she caters to a diverse global clientèle ranging from young professionals to diplomats.

The Etiquette Institute of Washington | Instagram | LinkedIn

Crystal’s Personal Instagram

Mentioned In How Etiquette Mastery Helps Supercharge Your Personal Brand with Crystal Bailey

“Personal Branding Bruisers: Paula’s Professional Pet Peeves” | YouTube

Paula’s Resources to Supercharge Your Personal Brand

Is Your Women’s Group Winning?: Strategies for Building a Stronger Women’s Initiative in Your Organization

Discover how to transform your women’s affinity group into a dynamic force that aligns with your organization’s mission and empowers women to thrive in leadership roles. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to reshape the future of women’s leadership within your organization.

When: February 13, 2024, from 12 to 1 pm ET

What to Expect:

  • Engaging and actionable insights on enhancing your Women’s Initiative or Women’s Affinity Group
  • Strategies for aligning your group’s goals with your organization’s strategic plan
  • Tips for impactful programming
  • Best practices for ensuring intersectional membership engagement

Click here to register

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Welcome to The Branding Room Only Podcast where we share career stories, strategies, and lessons learned on how industry leaders and influencers have built their personal brands. Now, let’s get started with the show. Hi everyone, it’s Paula Edgar, host of The Branding Room Only Podcast. And on The Branding Room Only Podcast, we talk to professionals and influencers about how they have built their personal brands and what their reflections are about personal brands. And today I have somebody who I’ve been so excited to bring to you, and her name is Crystal L. Bailey. Crystal puts the “pro” in protocol as director of The Etiquette Institute of Washington.

Paula Edgar: An etiquette expert and image consultant, she assists individuals in refining their executive presence, networking savvy, and fine-dining finesse. Trained by Debrett’s of London and certified by The London Image Institute, Crystal caters to a diverse global clientele, from young professionals to diplomats, and also to me. So, hi, Crystal. Welcome to The Branding Room Only Podcast.

Crystal Bailey: Hi Paula. It is so great to be with you.

Paula Edgar: I’m super excited about this conversation simply because I didn’t tell you this, but I just want to tell you something real quick before we started. I was at a meal the other day, a fancy dancy meal, and there were like 17 forks. There were 17 forks. There was a lot of forks and I had no idea what to do. And I just looked towards the other person and the other person looked towards me and I was like, “We need Crystal right immediately, right now.” And I was like, “Thank goodness she is going to be on my podcast.” But we’re going to get into all of that because I want to talk about how your knack of knowledge of etiquette or your knowledge of etiquette can impact your brand.

Paula Edgar: But, y’all, everybody knows I’m excited because when I jump into something else, I’m excited. So, Crystal, tell me, what does a personal brand mean to you? How do you define it?

Crystal Bailey: For me, it’s something that it’s not a complete departure from myself. It’s not something that I feel like I need to put on, but pretty much in all that I do, I filter it through that brand concept. And for me, a lot of it is lifestyle, and hopefully, then that shows through professional settings that I don’t feel like I’m having to put on so much.

Paula Edgar: So what I’m hearing from that is that authenticity, that authentic space of not having to create something, but it showed of you shining through and having a goal as to what that means, and I love that. So how do you describe yourself in three words or short phrases?

Crystal Bailey: Sure. I’d say classic. I’m kind of an old school girl. I like classic things, and I think that shows up in a lot of ways, whether it be my attire or even presentation, I guess, as well. And I guess elegance might be another word that I use because I do love the fine things and the nice things, and I like things to have an elegant touch to them, even if I’m just kind of at home. And I guess finally, quirky. I’m a little quirky.

Crystal Bailey: I’ve had to accept that and kind of live and roll around in it a little bit.

Paula Edgar: I love it. Classic, elegant, quirky. I love it. Okay, do you have a favorite quote or a mantra?

Crystal Bailey: Yes. I think the best thing that– my grandmother gave me many quotes when I had her, and I guess the best one is to have friends, you have to be a friend. And I’m not always great at that. And I think a lot of that also feeds into networking, too, that concept of being able to genuinely be interested in people, genuinely show up for people, and check in on them. And so that always courses through my mind. I’m just not very good at it.

Paula Edgar: I think it’s someplace that we all– we’re never perfect at it, right? Because there’s always somebody who we haven’t connected with. One of the reasons why I love having this podcast as a vehicle is it allows me to connect with people who I know have a fantastic story, a skill set, something that people need to know about, like yourself. But we have not spoken in a long time, although I have spoken of you. I do think that especially since the pandemic, we have to give ourselves some grace and also give ourselves some goals, right? We can do a little bit better, and then we can also understand that we had a significant shift in our beings, and that makes it that it’s hard to focus on everything else. Plus, the news cycle is wild. So all of that.

Paula Edgar: So all my friends out there who are like, “I only have to hear from you on this podcast.” Hi. Hey, y’all.

Paula Edgar: I love you.

Paula Edgar: Okay, so do you have a hype song? A hype song for me is a song that you’re playing when you’re about to walk into a room and they can expect all of Crystal. Or if you’re having a tough day, you need this song to pick you up, and it can be the same song or a different song.

Crystal Bailey: Gosh, I do, but I can’t think of who sings it. That’s crazy. I’ll look it up. But it’s All White Party, and it’s like this kind of, I don’t know, trap song. But it’s just all about going to an all-white party and the beat, everything in it kind of gets me going and empowers me a little bit. So if you ever think about getting ready to go to an all-white party and you got your clothes on, you’re ready, you got your drink, but you’re trying not to spill it on you, that’s the vibe.

Paula Edgar: I love that. What I’m doing is creating a Branding Room Only soundtrack for it. The best part about it is that the genres are everywhere. They’re different languages, and I think it speaks to the diversity and the power of the people whom I have spoken with. So I’m loving that as a thing. So we’ll get the artist to play. Okay. So, Crystal, we have known each other for, gosh, now it’s over ten years. I know that much.

Paula Edgar: And I know, I read about what you do. I talked to the audience just now, and they’re going to read your whole bio, but tell me where you’re from and sort of how you got started and a little more bones on what you actually do.

Crystal Bailey: Sure. So I am from a very rural place in Virginia, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Usually, if someone has heard about it, they have received a ticket on the highway there heading south. So that is where I’m from. I grew up on a farm, a cattle farm, but I’m really a city girl. My grandma, she lived in Richmond, which was the city, and I was into theater and the arts, and so I stayed with her so much of growing up just so I could be around those. So I have a duality. I love the farm and I love everything being calm and quiet, but then I absolutely love being around arts and culture.

Crystal Bailey: And so from there, being an arts kid and a theater kid, I headed to Howard University, studied theater there, and I said to myself, “You know,” I don’t know, I had like an Elle Woods moment, I guess, I was like, “I’m going to go to law school.” I thought about it before, I guess, growing up, but I was like, “I’m going to do this, and then I can represent all of my classmates. They’re all actors, and they’re going to be heading to LA and New York. That is what I can do.” Then I somehow made it to law school and took the LSAT and did all that stuff, but I realized I wasn’t into contracts and intellectual property all that much, but I was really into criminal law. That was a big interest of mine.

Crystal Bailey: But while I was in law school, I went to an etiquette dinner, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I love this,” and I quit law school. No, I should have, though, it would have saved me a lot of money. Plot twist. No, I should have. But I finished up school, of course, and headed to DC, worked for the federal government, but still implanted in my mind was, “How can I get the etiquette training to be like that woman that had taught the dining etiquette piece?” Classes were insane, like the prices, I was like, you know, coming out of law school, you don’t have any, and especially during that time.

Crystal Bailey: So, okay, there were like a few videos on YouTube. So I watched those two videos on YouTube back then, over and over, and read a lot of etiquette books. I said, “You know, eventually, I’ll get to do the training, I guess, that I want to,” but I just jumped in, really, once I had started with the government, so trying to do both for a very long time was insanity. I can just remember the days that I would be doing this huge briefing with the head of an agency, and then I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m supposed to be at a client, an etiquette corporate thing, training.” I’m trying to figure it all out, changing in the car, really craziness for quite a few years, and eventually, right before the pandemic, I switched.

Crystal Bailey: I left the government, which was wild. But I guess what had happened, I didn’t work as an attorney while I was with the government, except the last part. I went and did a stint as a special assistant US Attorney. Never done a trial before in my life, none of these things, and I was like, “But there was a program that you could do.”

Crystal Bailey: And I was like, “I would love to do that before I leave the government, like, really try cases and stuff.” After that, I was ready to just throw it all in. That’s literally, I think maybe I went on vacation, I got back to work, and then that was it. I was out of there. And, yeah, I haven’t really looked back.

Paula Edgar: Okay. Love this. This is the government commercial because I also love government, but city government in New York, but still, I think there’s a lot of training you can get, but there’s a lot of tape and rigamarole that you have to go through as well to be within the government. So I get it. So tell me then, you decided you were going to do etiquetting, so you eventually did go get training, because I see that you have the fancy Debrett’s of London, so how did you do that? What drove you to that space?

Crystal Bailey: So I guess I am thankful kind of for my government experience. I traveled a lot extensively when I was working and I had the opportunity to be in France and the UK for a few months. That’s when I was like, “You know, I’m gonna save up, I’m gonna figured out.” Sometimes people just want to jump out and it’s fantastic to just be able to jump out into entrepreneurship, but it did give me kind of a base a little bit to be able to do those things. And so yes, I finally, I think about two or three years into my business, was able to go to Debrett’s and get the training there that I really wanted. Then just this year, I went to the London Image Institute. So for me, like every year, it’s some type of piece of professional development, right? It’s been 12 or 13 years for me, but etiquette evolves, the skills that we need in business have evolved so much. So for me, it’s always finding some piece of professional development.

Crystal Bailey: But that experience with the London Image Institute really was a piece that I was missing. So I’m glad I was able to do that this year.

Paula Edgar: I love that because I’m passionate about professional development, not just giving it but also getting it. I think we always have to continue iterating on ourselves and that’s a part of brand building is to make sure that you are up to date, et cetera. So I want to hear a little bit more about what you have learned as you have been telling other people about how to engage in etiquette spaces. What are some of the things that you see over and over again as mistakes people make and things that maybe you see shifting after the pandemic?

Crystal Bailey: Okay, major shifts since the pandemic. Well, DC is interesting and that’s where I usually see people going to work and things like that. So it was fun to see people putting their suits back on and actually doing business formal and stuff, because for a while, I had to talk about Zoom dress code, I guess, and the virtual dress code and wearing soft suits and those weird things that they were selling to us during the pandemic. So it’s interesting to see people kind of going back to where we were. Oh, help me with the question I’ve ventured on.

Paula Edgar: No, all good. So what kinds of things do you see mistakes that people make sort of frequently, yeah.

Crystal Bailey: So many ways, whether it be in the digital space, with even just email communications. A big piece of etiquette that I always keep in mind is one, responding to people in kind. So the same way that they reached out to you, really, really important to me, because a lot of times, people will text or reach out in weird ways, and when we have systems in place, a lot of times, you lose that information, or it might be a friend that reaches out, and it’s like in a very casual way, but then you’re ultimately missing out on that. So I think responding to people the same way that either they expect to be reached out to or having a little bit of formality to that in the business realm, and then also knowing our audience the same way that I would speak to someone on my team versus a client versus someone that’s more adversarial, totally different.

Crystal Bailey: And I think in our communications, really thinking about who your audience is and giving a little bit of shift and deference, maybe in that realm.

Paula Edgar [00:13:49]: So when I think about just etiquette in general as a thing, I think fanciness. I went to boarding school, and so when I was in boarding school, there were some etiquette and protocols that we had to learn. But given my recent experience with the thousand forks, I want to have a tangible takeaway for the folks right now who are not googling it, and I’ve seen so many people. So tell me, if I’m at a table, I got my forks on the left, I got my knives on the right, which fork am I supposed to use first? The one closest to the plate or the one outside of it?

Crystal Bailey: Outside. So we work from the outside in. So you’re working your way in down to nothing. Then if you look forward to dessert like I do, look forward, and you’ll see your dessert utensils there.

Paula Edgar: Oh, so everything on top is dessert?

Crystal Bailey: Everything on top should be dessert. That is not your soup spoon.

Paula Edgar: That is not your soup spoon. Everybody, can you hear my– People have been looking at me because I have definitely been souping and deserting at the same time. Okay, what about this? I saw this the other day as well. Are we supposed to tuck our napkin into our collar? I did not do it, but I did see it the other day.

Crystal Bailey: No, we’re not. But my mom does that. And I’m like, I think she does things just to– She also says Merlot, but I imagine she’s doing these things just to get under my skin. She’ll just take the napkin and put it up like she’s at the beauty salon or something. No, no, no. So the napkin, it’s in our lap and it really shouldn’t be stained. This is not something that other people want to see

Crystal Bailey: your little spaghetti stains and lipstick stains. The napkin stays in the lap the entire meal until we’re actually getting up from the table. Paula has paid the check. That’s when we’re placing the napkin. And then don’t place it on your plate, but to the left.

Paula Edgar: On the left of your plate. Okay, another question. How does the waiter know what I’m doing with my forks? Am I doing Wakanda Forever X? Does that mean I’m finished?

Crystal Bailey: Okay, so the main signal that you need to know is finished because that’s going to be right here. It’s going to be your fork and knife together.

Paula Edgar: Okay.

Crystal Bailey: All right. Kind of like a backslash, I guess, but the handles are going to be to 4:00 on your plate. So from across the room–

Paula Edgar: Got it.

Crystal Bailey: Server can see, they’re not going to, “Excuse me, ma’am, are you finished? Are you finished?” They can see either you’re still eating or you’re finished. Resting is like this kind of like a little pizza slice.

Paula Edgar: Okay, okay, okay.

Paula Edgar: All right. People are learning that.

Crystal Bailey: Those are the main two we need to know.

Paula Edgar: We are doing the Lord’s work right now. I’m telling you because I’m a gala girl. I love going to galas. I just look around and I’m glad when there’s only one fork or one knife. So I’m like, “I don’t have to worry about all of this,” but also I see things where, yeah, okay, what else? I’m going to use this opportunity. So what do you see in terms of networking? Like, when people are in person with each other that you see that may be some faux pas that you would want to correct as an etiquette.

Crystal Bailey: Right. So no one invited you to the networking event because you looked hungry, but people are just like, bam, food and colossal shrimp, and crab balls. Usually, the food is not that good, so I always advise to leave that alone because either you’re going to be juggling food, going to be juggling drink, and trying to do them both together, and it’s too much. So if I go to an event, I’ll have a drink. Make sure you keep the beverage in your left hand so that your right hand is always free to shake hands. And, yeah, try to, if you can, stay away from the food.

Crystal Bailey: But that does mean you need to eat something beforehand. So don’t go having five glasses of wine and haven’t had anything to eat all day.

Paula Edgar: I’ve seen that as well. I’ve seen the folks that did not eat there or anywhere else but decided that the bar was at their time, speaking of etiquette. What about, have you seen a shift in terms of people shaking hands or not post-pandemic?

Crystal Bailey: So I was really concerned whether or not we would go back to shaking hands at all in the height of the pandemic. But then I remembered this study I had seen where individuals are, like, in this doctor’s examination room, and they’re all hooked up and everything. The doctor comes in, shakes their hand, and leaves out of the room. Then what do they do? They end up sniffing their hand. But not like a sniff like this, but more of like, “Oh, I’m getting a whiff of that person.” They do something so they can actually smell the hand that they–

Crystal Bailey: Okay, so it sounds creepy and terrible. So then the handshake, to me, is very primal.

Paula Edgar: It’s anthropological. I was going to say, okay, all right.

Crystal Bailey: We’re assessing that other person. That’s how I had a little bit of faith that we would come back to it. But there are times when we may not want to shake hands, and that is okay. Before the pandemic, that would have been, my goodness, like, the ultimate insult to not shake someone’s hand.

Crystal Bailey: But now if I greet someone, I just want my hands visible. “It’s so great to meet you. It’s wonderful to see you. How are you doing?” Any of those things. But it kind of lets that person know my hands are available, but not for you. They can see what you’re doing with your hands, but you’re not going for that handshake.

Crystal Bailey: And I think that’s important. So you can’t get too close if you don’t plan to handshake.

Paula Edgar: I started doing this heart touch. Like, hi, hello, I’m heart-touching. That means I am a good person, I just don’t want to touch you. But I would say that I’m in a lot of places with people who I know who know that I’m a hugger, but I never say I’m a hugger. I’m just waiting to kind of see, we’re kind of doing this little dance to see if we’re ready to hug. Then I get so excited, because speaking of, I studied anthropology and cultures, we connect based on our eyes, our teeth, and when we actually touch each other.

Paula Edgar: So to your point about the handshake, it is really important to solidify connection and also names. So when I tell people to introduce themselves, I say, “Look someone in the eye, and if you can, smile and then touch their hands if you are a handshaker, because those three things solidify that moment for you and for them, because just anthropologically, that resonate better.” But that’s probably the only thing I remember from my anthropology studies. That’s a whole nother thing. Okay, so tell me, you decided you were going to start the etiquette school, and that was just the side hustle. And I knew you did a lot with children in addition to adults. I used to always say to my kids, “I’m going to send you to DC and put you through Crystal’s boothcamp because y’all are embarrassing me.”

Paula Edgar: They are gulpers, and it’s from their father. I’m like, “It must just be so hereditary. I don’t know what else to do besides you need to sip a drink. You’re not gulping,” but, oh, well, I tried. So, anyway, what do you see mostly from children versus what you see from adults when you’re working with them? Is there anything that’s consistent or inconsistent in those spaces?

Crystal Bailey: Yeah, I see a lot of times that children are more open to the topic because we as adults have kind of, “Well, this is the way I’ve always cut my food and I’ve always stabbed it like this so I’m going to keep stabbing.” Whereas a kid will be like, “Oh, okay, like this, all right,” and then they kind of take it on and they go on with it and even enjoy the fact that they’re kind of learning something new or formal. Then a lot of times we, as I said, are set in our ways.

Crystal Bailey: So it’s interesting. I do find, of course, that kids, they’re not online googling, like, “Oh, let me find an etiquette class.” Whereas my adult clients, they usually are. They’re doing something private. So there’s that receptiveness, too. Unless it’s like a spouse that’s like, “Oh, I’m giving my spouse this gift card to go to an etiquette dinner.”

Paula Edgar: Happy holiday. You need this right now. That’s hilarious.

Paula Edgar: I can only imagine.

Crystal Bailey: Some people have made it and they have been successful without some of these small, little finer rules. They might not find as much use to it. For me, I love knowing the scale of things. I know how to be the most formal, and that is usually what I’m teaching, so that you can scale it back a little bit. If I have a client that’s from Dallas and they have their elbows on the table, if they roll their sleeves up, and they’re just more relaxed, then I can do that, too. But I know what I’m breaking down. I know what I’m selecting to not follow as a rule.

Paula Edgar: So I’m glad you started saying that and thinking about regions and maybe the way that things show up differently, because as I was reflecting on this, and actually I was reading a story with my son, and it was talking about cultural differences in terms of how we eat, people eating with their hands, other people eating with utensils, et cetera, is there any best practice when it comes to trying to be on your best game? When there’s a cross-cultural part of a setting that you’re going to be in?

Crystal Bailey: Yes. That’s another time to not be completely stuck in our ways, whether it’s going to someone’s home and them asking you to take their shoes off for a cultural reason. That happened to me because I do a lot of in-home lessons, but it was like the summertime, I didn’t have a pedicure, and I was like, “Really? Okay,” but being respectful or needing to be respectful, and I was like, “Can I just stand on the carpet at once?” So whether it be that or whether it be something with dining, as in dining with our hands or something that you’re not used to in your culture, it’s not being judgmental because a lot of times, we can see that in a restaurant, we see someone where they really kind of lower over their soup bowl or that sort of thing. It’s easy to say, “Oh, they’re ridiculous,” not taking into account their culture.

Paula Edgar: We went on vacation for Thanksgiving, and we went to a resort on an island. When you get to the resort, they give you a cool towel. My son takes the towel and wipes his whole face with the towel. It was supposed to be for your hands and your neck. But he was like, “I’m going to wash this face as the washcloth. That’s what we do.” I was like, it was a kind of a hot ride. I get it.

Paula Edgar: To that end, I think about all the things that I see that may not be an issue for the circle that you’re in, but when people are looking at you outside of the circle, they probably are judging you, and that impacts your brand. A lot of my listeners are lawyers or in other professions that are white collar, and there is a lot of success in the nontangibles, not the skill set that you have, but the way in which you show up, your EQ and your IQ. When I think about etiquette and how that shows up, I think about that because you may do something that is outside of a social more outside of something that people expect and it can impact your brand. So have you gotten questions about things like that or have you seen this where it’s like, “Ooh, they did this thing,” and it totally derailed the situation or whatever?

Crystal Bailey: Yeah. I guess my thought is it’s rare that one little thing will make someone say, “Oh, my God, I can’t deal with this person or work with them, or I can’t take them out to client meals,” or something like that. But it’s almost a consistency of being unaware of things and of the etiquette that’s expected in certain spaces. Again, we can pick and choose maybe some rules that we want to break. That’s fun. I love it. But if we’re consistently breaking rules and we’re consistently kind of ignoring those social mores, then I think that’s the problem. So it adds up.

Crystal Bailey: It adds up over time.

Paula Edgar: That’s a good point.

Paula Edgar: So, yeah, I do think if you got all the other things or mostly other things together, that’s not going to be the deal breaker. But I wonder, do you have any thoughts about how somebody can point out that someone has broken a social more or that done something outside of etiquette in a way that’s kind and maybe be accepted? What would you say to my son who’s wiping his face with a towel?

Crystal Bailey: I would just snatch it.

Paula Edgar: That’s exactly what I did. I’m like, “Give me that towel. Get over. Stop embarrassing me.”

Crystal Bailey: I guess a lot of times, we can make light of it or make a joke. “Oh, my gosh. If I see you like that one more time,” which is what I said to my sister the other day. So making light of it for me is usually kind of the best thing. I try not to come off as too judgmental because at the end of the day, a lot of it, I don’t care about too much. It’s not like my pearls are clutched every moment of the day. But yeah, showing people too. I think if we show up, not correcting my mom with the pronunciation, “Ma, it’s Merlot, it’s quinoa.”

Crystal Bailey: Right? Oh, I would love to have a glass of Merlot. She’s not going to do it, but maybe someone else would listen to that and say, “Oh, Merlot.”

Paula Edgar: Right. That’s how it’s said. But that’s always me. I’m like, “Oh, that’s how you say it?”

Crystal Bailey: But I’m not going to say.

Paula Edgar: Right. Say this.

Paula Edgar: Right? Yeah. The first time I realized how quinoa was pronounced, I was like, “Wait, it’s not kwee-nowa?” I mean, phonetically, it’s quinoa. But to that end, I do think that I’m glad that you brought up the point of that. It doesn’t have to be so serious and so detrimental. But I do know that a lot of people tend to be concerned, and I think about this from the associates who are diverse, who have come from different backgrounds, who are coming into spaces that they’ve never been before and don’t quite know how to navigate and are afraid to navigate, so they just don’t as opposed to doing and perhaps making a mistake and then figuring out what is best done going forward.

Paula Edgar: I saw a general counsel speaking recently, and she was talking about going out to eat with someone. Generally, the way that things go is that somebody’s from a law firm, they take somebody out who’s in-house at a company because they’re a potential client or an actual client, they will pay for it. She said that they just both sat there looking at the check, and she was like waiting. Then she said that she ended up paying realizing that the associate had no idea that she was supposed to pay. But then I’m like, “Well, it’s not going to impact that person forever.” That story is what’s being told.

Paula Edgar: I didn’t know the specifics of the person, but I do know that that’s something that’s being pulled out. I think it’s important to think about what are some of the things that people may trip up on that can impact them societally within our small society and in bigger in spaces. That’s why I wanted to ask you some of those questions.

Crystal Bailey: That’s really a good example, I guess, of how something can impact us in business, maybe picking up the wrong fork is not going to be such a thing, but something like that stays in your mind.

Paula Edgar: Absolutely. Okay, so tell me, has there been a time, and I guess you’ve kind of started talking about it, but when you had to pivot your own brand in order to navigate whatever you’re trying to do next? Tell me about that pivot.

Crystal Bailey: So, of course, the pandemic, huge, crazy pivot for me, especially since I was starting off right at that point, doing things full time. Before, you would never anywhere be able to get an etiquette training virtually, it’s just not a thing. It was not done. That would be a pearl clutch in and of itself. So finding ways to bring the training to life in a virtual space was really interesting for me. It was helpful for me to take a lot of other training courses during that time so that I could say, “Oh, I love this. How can I bring this same type of energy, involvement, and engagement in my trainings?” Trying to figure that out was really fun to the point that I still offer a virtual course and they’re still a great use because now I can have clients that are from all over the world and all over the country, and they can just sign up with a click and they don’t have to bring themselves to DC or me to go to them. So I think that is kind of a great thing and something to have. But there’s also this classic and traditional part of etiquette in this business where it needs to be hands-on and people want to experience the fine dining aspects of training.

Crystal Bailey: So I’m glad to be back to that, too.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, I can imagine that was challenging. I mean, everyone had to kind of learn, “How do I do what I do via these screens?” But I think it was a good way for us to learn how to stretch, to figure out that it doesn’t always have to be the way it always has been. But to that end, I do agree with you, that kind of being in a space and understanding how things are done, you can’t really feel the feel virtually in the same way that you do when you are in person. Okay, so we kind of started talking about this already, but I want to ask you specifically again, are there any specific mistakes that you want to call out that you see people making when they are trying to network or build their brands?

Crystal Bailey: I guess being overly pushy and only focused on themselves. The “I” “I” “I” where I always try to tell people to have the mindset when you’re going into a networking space or even just thinking about networking, is what can I bring to other people? What kind of energy can I bring to this space? I like to put myself in the mindset of like a host, so that when I go in, it’s like, “Oh, I’m checking in on people.” I could be at the bottom of the guest list, but I’m still, “How are things going with you?” almost doing that kind of check-in with people. Even if I feel a little bit nervous at an event, if I switch my mindset up a little bit, so I think the biggest thing is just trying to sell, and not building a relationship. I know in the US, I mean, we’re so different from some other cultures where you’re over months building and developing a relationship before you do business with someone. Here, we can shoot an email to someone and you’re on a podcast or doing whatever it might be instantly.

Crystal Bailey: Just because we can doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it or the best way to do it. I think the relationship-building portion is important with networking and so not just, “Oh, well, you should do this,” or such and such and such, but “Oh, I’d love to keep in touch,” then we reach out, we have these touch points, and it builds over time and naturally.

Paula Edgar: Right, and less transactional, less, “What can you do? What can I do more about who are you? How might we be able to collaborate?” I mean, that’s a pet peeve of mine, which my audience knows. I do like to do my pet peeves podcast. That’s one where it’s just like, “Hi, nice to meet you.” It’s like dating. I don’t know who you’re dating, but I’m telling you that you’re not going to get something from me immediately either. So please, let’s not– It just should be different than that.

Paula Edgar: I think it’s always better when a relationship is deeper as opposed to sort of just very surface level. It works out better and it lasts longer, I think. Okay, so do you have advice for people who are trying to build their brand?

Crystal Bailey: Yes. Or I should. It’s being consistent going back, I still, to this day, go back to my business plan and I think about kind of my goals and aims that I had. I just keep that in the back of my mind. But it’s all about consistency, from the way that we show up physically to the way that we email and communicate with others, to social media and how we present ourselves there and the design and graphics that we use, our website. So everything to me really needs to be a consistent message. I think selecting those three words at the beginning with you, I’m always thinking about, does it have those elements of classic elegance, but with a little bit of kind of quirk and fun to it? So everything that I do then is filtered through that.

Crystal Bailey: That’s, I guess, my best advice is just using a filter for every, I mean, think about it like a social media filter, but everything should kind of say, “Oh, okay, I know exactly what brand this is.”

Paula Edgar: I sort of think of it as like a North Star. If you have assessed well who you are and then also thinking about who you want to be and how you want to be regarded, those are then those three filters, right? I decided what those things are, and now, is this thing that I’m going to do is the thing I’m going to show, the thing I’m going to create? Does it filter through those things? And if not, am I deliberately doing that because of XYZ reason?

Paula Edgar: So if you then see that Paula is taking ballet classes, you’ll be like, “Hmm, that’s not quite what I know her to be.” That being said, stay tuned for next year. I’m just kidding. I’m not taking a ballet. Just kidding. Just kidding. So what do you do for fun, Crystal?

Crystal Bailey: Oh, okay. I love traveling. That is like my thing, and exploring new places. I’m a big solo traveler and I’m an only child. I can be by myself, really. That’s why the pandemic, I was like, “Oh, this is my happy space.” But as far as kind of just bunkering down.

Crystal Bailey: So yeah, I love that I’m out of it. I get to experience new cultures. I then am able to input that into what I do so that when I have clients that are headed somewhere or from somewhere, I’m able to speak to that. So I really enjoy using it, but I really enjoy traveling. But I enjoy using it for business. Then I also really enjoy engaging with people when I’m traveling somewhere or reaching out to see what etiquette professionals are there and if maybe I can meet up with them or grab a coffee and see how they are handling their business where they are.

Paula Edgar: I love that.

Crystal Bailey: Yeah, I love that, too.

Paula Edgar: That’s so smart. Because then, like I said, the question I was asking about the cultural pieces, you’re kind of gaining some of that insight and sharing some insight as well, which to the point of it not just being transactional is really getting and giving information in a way that is helpful to both parties. I love that. Do you have one or two favorite travel destinations that come to mind?

Crystal Bailey: Yes, I guess, well, forever in my heart will be South Africa, but I did actually study there when I was in law school, so that was an impactful experience to see so many different sides of that country. More recently, I’m a big, let me think.

Paula Edgar: You were someplace recently. I saw this on your social and you were standing front of water. It was gorgeous.

Crystal Bailey: Well, I didn’t even share this yet, but I’m saving one little image that I like, I guess for months, but I went to India this year. That was unreal for me. Well, from the food to culture. It’s so much like the US in that everywhere you go, just like we would go to every different states or regions, there’s such a difference in culture. So that’s what I enjoyed. Whether it be city, whether it be a place that’s on a lake and more relaxed, or the insanity of some of the larger cities, it was a lot like the US in that sense. I appreciated that because you could get many different tastes of the country, which is, I have to go back.

Crystal Bailey: It’s huge. It’s ridiculous.

Paula Edgar: Literally many different tastes. I look forward to going. I’m married to a man named Taj and I’m like, “I got to take you there. We got to go.” All right, so everybody on my podcast has to respond to two different questions. One is this: It’s to stand by your brand, what aspect of your personality, your brand will you never compromise on?

Crystal Bailey: Equality. I want everything to be equality. It doesn’t always get to be luxury, but definitely a quality experience so that my clients expect that. But there are times when I may be going to work with a youth group or girl scouts or community center or something like that where I don’t get to bring the level of luxury, but it’s still going to be a quality training and the materials that I bring, everything is still going to speak to my brand even if it’s not at that five-star hotel. So that, for me, is important that everyone still gets a quality experience.

Paula Edgar: I love that. As somebody who I think even just recently, meaning, like in the last five years, I have really said to myself what I deserve. We can all talk to my therapist about this, but what I want is to have elevated experiences. I don’t want to have regular experiences because it’s just been so clear to me the brevity of life, and also the need to really be present and engaged in things. When you do those things in quality and luxuries around, it’s just different, right? It’s just different. I think you can access that without necessarily having to spend a ton of money, but really thinking about what your standard is and always speaking to that standard. I’ve just been in that space of like, “Okay, well, if it’s going to be something, an elevated thing, I want to elevate with it. I want to do that in that space.”

Paula Edgar: All right, so tell me this, and maybe similar. So Branding Room Only is a spin-off of standing room only, if you think about people gathering in a room, a crowd where there’s standing room only, because there’s so much clamoring about Crystal being on the stage for them to experience something, for them to see something that you have your magic, what is that magic?

Crystal Bailey: I guess for me, it’s hard to explain, but I just have a passion that sometimes I’ll have a really crazy day or doing like three trainings and something like ridiculous, and then I’ll be like, “Oh, my gosh, I just love this. I just love this.” I’ll just take one breath and I really love this. So for me, it’s a genuine love for what I do. I’m thankful because every day, week, month, and year has been different for me in the business. But really, the idea that every time I go to someone, it’s a different experience, not ever just robotic for me. I love that and appreciate that. I love getting to meet so many different people. So, yeah, I think just that little–

Crystal Bailey: I really love this. It’s something that’s unique because some people, and I’ve definitely had jobs and things that I’ve done where I didn’t love it, and it might have been very clear, but I think that people can see just how much I love it.

Paula Edgar: It’s sort of like your joy space, right? The space where even if it’s hard, it still brings you joy. For everybody, I think the answer of what attracts people to them is that they may not actually identify that, because there are people who’ve answered the questions, been on the podcast, or just have had conversations with who will say what their skill is, but that doesn’t necessarily resonate to what brings out the joy and magic. So sometimes there’s that crossover. I think what you’re saying it is for you, but it’s not always the case so I love that you’re like, “They’re going to come and see me in my joy, in my talent and my joy at the same space.” Love that. So, Crystal, tell me, how can people find out more about you, what you do, and connect with you? Tell the audience what they can do.

Crystal Bailey: Yes. Yes. So I would love to keep up and engage with you. I’m a lot more active on Instagram, I guess, than other platforms, but I’m also on LinkedIn, so my Instagram is @commoncurtsey, and I want to talk about this a little bit, Paula, since we’re here. Yes, you know, early on, I had asked you for advice on whether to have two social, two Instagrams, and try to figure the question in life, one or two pages. So for the longest, I really tried to do the one page, and then I said, “Well, I’ll just save or start up the other one and see.” So I’m doing both. But I feel like sometimes I’m like, “Ugh! I should just be doing one.” It’s crazy, but it’s always interesting thinking back to that conversation and trying to figure it out.

Crystal Bailey: But, yes. So my personal Instagram, I guess, is @commoncurtsey, and then @washingtonetiquette on Instagram as well for the professional one. Still trying to figure my life out, Paula. The website is

Crystal Bailey: I offer a lot of virtual courses, in-person courses. I have some exciting ones coming up. I’m doing a five-day training, The Trainer Course, doing some full-day adult courses, and savoir-vivre and social graces. So if you’ve ever wanted to go to a finishing school in Switzerland, I guess, at least do it for a day.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Maybe I’ll sign up. I’ve been fancy. Crystal, thank you so much for joining us in The Branding Room. Everybody, tell a friend, especially that one who puts the napkin in their shirt, to listen to this episode. If you listened on any of the podcast platforms, make sure you also watch us on YouTube, because you got to see some of the things that she was doing and showing so that you can know what you’re supposed to do the next time you’re in some place and you don’t want to embarrass yourself. Everybody, thanks for coming to The Branding Room, and I’ll see you next time.