What *Is* Proper Blackberry Etiquette?

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Wells Fargo will fine you $100 for looking at your Blackberry during a meeting. At Goldman Sachs it's frowned upon unless you're obtaining info with which to front run prime brokerage clients. Bank of America doesn't care what you do as long as you blow less than 0.3% on your daily breathalyzer test (and even there, there's wiggle room). With very few exceptions, however, most firms don't have policies on 'berry or iPhone use during meetings, according to the Times, which devoted resources to an investigation on the matter this weekend. The tricky thing, you see, is that the reason you shouldn't tappity tap tap tap while people are talking (it's douchey and rude), is the same reason you might want to (i.e. douchey and rude, you may have noticed, equal important in this biz).

Mr. Brotherton, the consultant, wrote in an e-mail message that it was customary now for professionals to lay BlackBerrys or iPhones on a conference table before a meeting -- like gunfighters placing their Colt revolvers on the card tables in a saloon. "It's a not-so-subtle way of signaling 'I'm connected. I'm busy. I'm important. And if this meeting doesn't hold my interest, I've got 10 other things I can do instead.'"


Besides a bunch of broad tips (don't do it in front of a client, the more people in the room the less noticeable you updating your Facebook status will be), we don't get much in the way of specific "what's a-okay and what will get you canned." Like, if the fly of the person presenting is undone, is it cool to shoot a quick one to your colleague across the table about it, noting that [presenter of choice's secretary] is slipping on her attention to detail? If you're sitting in a room with HR getting canned, can you take two to get in touch with the Journal to let them know "this place is a Ponzi scheme"? If you work for a bank, let's just call it "Lehman Brothers," and you get an email marked priority "high," subject line "MAYDAY," and 4 little words, "This sucker's gonna blow," are you allowed to respond? And if that doesn't count as serious enough, what about a message marked priority "high as fuck," subject line "911," body "bring chips -- Jimmy C"? Give me real-life scenarios, Do/Don'ts. Let's get into this.

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