Social media platforms aside, the one-on-one, face-to-face business meeting remains an integral part of the professional landscape and presents a singular opportunity to personally connect and ultimately advance critical interpersonal relationships.
Think of business meetings as fertile judgment grounds where others almost relentlessly judge behavior because a business opportunity is on the table, so to speak. Preparation should be both tactical and strategic.
Let me invite you on a preparation journey from the parking lot to the boardroom:
Before the Meeting
- Reconfirm meeting the previous day and prepare an agenda to include them!
- Learn their company’s dress culture and dress a notch above. You want to “fit in” yet present yourself so others look up to you as the consummate professional in your field. Remember, Professional Attire is “never wrong.”
- Think: quality … from attire, business cards and hand-outs to briefcases and yes, even pens.
- Select briefcase size to match your mission. Carrying a large, full briefcase to a 20-minute meeting suggests they are one of many. Your goal is to make them feel like your “one and only.”
Arrivals & Introductions
- Arrive 15 minutes early, but no more than 15-minutes … they are not literally your only client!
- Upon arrival, cell phones, pagers: Off! NO one else is more important.
- Introduce yourself to the receptionist and offer your card. Visit restroom for a final visual and wash and dry hands thoroughly to help eliminate clammy hands – the “kiss of death!” Pop a breath mint.
- STAND in the reception, briefcase in your left hand, leaving your right hand free to shake hands.
- In The Meeting Room, exchange business cards before the meeting and strategically align them around your portfolio to use (perfectly pronounced) names when speaking. Your attention detail is noticed.
- Engage in small talk placing others at ease and make personal client notes. This information can be used in subsequent communication to further relationships.
- Remember, the host, always seated first, sits at the ‘head of the table’ – facing the doors. The most important person is seated to host’s right. The second most important person: host’s left. Co-presenters sit opposite the host to gesture/exchange silent signals and together, control the meeting.
- Sit (focused) forward and consume much “space.” The perception is powerful. Good posture and eye-contact are imperative.
- Remember, hands belong on the table; you are not “under handed” or going to draw a sword/weapon! (origin.)
- Refrain from fidgeting, inattentiveness and touching face/hair. Hosts should stand to introduce versus announce, those present.
- Guests should stand for self-introductions.
After the Meeting
- Hosts walk guests to door/elevator/car, referring to the “meeting after the meeting” when it all comes together.
- Remember to send email and hand-written “thank you” notes within 24-48 hours.
You are now prepped, and properly positioned to personally connect, counter and close at the table!