Attending a business meeting is just as important as the person hosting the meeting. If you know the nuances that go into being part of a meeting and how to participate correctly, then you will take such a business opportunity to enhance your personal brand within the organization.
When attending a business meeting there are fundamental etiquette, protocols, and behaviors that are critical for you to be aware of so that you can ensure that others see you as the competent, credible professional that you are. A lack of understanding of these aspects of business meetings can be determinantal to your brand.
This blog is to give you a bird’s eye view on how to attend and participate a successful, productive business meeting. You can review the topics below as you begin planning to attend your next meeting or have been asked to participate at the last minute. This blog is sure to help you get organized quickly.
1. Know Your PURPOSE!
Once you are asked to attend a meeting, ask the host what the purpose of the meeting is if that was not made clear in the invite. Next, ask the host what the desired outcome of the meeting is, again if that is not made clear in the invite. In other words, what does he or she hope to accomplish after the meeting adjourns?
2. Be Prepared to Present
If the host does not ask you to participate, then ask is there is anything that you can do to help with the meeting’s agenda. This does not mean to show up early and help set up, you are not there to serve in that manner. You want to contribute something of substance to the event. It doesn’t mean you can’t offer afterward to tidy up, but know that you are a contributor, not housekeeping.
If you are asked to participate, then be very specific in the need and do your homework. Do not show up unprepared. If you do, you might as well not show up as your brand will suffer significantly. And rest assured that you will NOT be asked for future meetings. This will lessen your visibility opportunities in the organization.
Be sure that you bring all the collateral and equipment to the meeting with you. If you are using PowerPoint, send yourself a copy on email with a backup on a thumbnail.
3. Business Cards
Always bring your business cards to a business meeting. You have multiple times to engage with others; in the reception area, prior to the meeting with other attendees, when sitting down to begin the meeting, the host might ask that each of you exchange them.
4. Know Who Is Attending
Ask the host if you may ask who else would be attending the meeting. Most hosts will forward a list; however, if he or she does not, then ask. Get familiar with the other attendees; their names and positions, perhaps review their LinkedIn to find what they are doing in the community or where they went to school. Something to give content that is not necessarily business-related. This can help drive communication as opposed to discussing the weather.
1. Dress The Part
If you are going to act like a professional, then look like one too!
Your professional image, how you look, sets-the-tone for what others can expect from you. If your look is unkept and sloppy then the perception of your knowledge, skills, and abilities might be perceived in the same way.
Never assume that just because you dress more casually for day-to-day business, that you can for a meeting. It is important to ask the host what the dress code is, particularly if it’s out of your office or at an off-site location. If it is a more casual dress code, always dress it up a notch. For example, if jeans are acceptable, men might opt for a long-sleeved dress shirt as opposed to a polo shirt. For women, jeans with a jacket or top that covers the shoulders project a little dressier look and feel.
To learn more about your Professional Image, you can read our blog called, “Do You Know How to Dress the Part, Dress for Your Company, Your Products and Services, Meet Your Customer Expectations, Internally and Externally?”, by clicking here.
2. Collaterals and Materials
How you package anything that you present is critical to being part of a meeting. Ensure that your PowerPoint is branded correctly. Check the fonts and colors of the organization. If you are a contractor, perhaps you might ask the host for the organization’s templates, or their logo graphic, fonts, and color criteria. This shows that you respect and pay close attention to the task at hand.
1. Greeting the Receptionist
When you great the receptionists it is important to introduce yourself by using your full name, with whom you have a meeting with, the time of the meeting, and then hand him or her your business card. This allows them to remember your name more easily and/or know how to pronounce it correctly when calling the host.
2. Where to Sit in the Reception Area?
Where you sit when waiting for the host is very important. The best spot in the house is the seat that faces the hallway or the area where you think the host will be entering the reception area. How you sit is important. Do not slouch, regardless of how long you must wait. Sit on the edge of the seat, letting your feet support you, not the seat itself. This helps reduce slouching.
Also, where you put the items you brought with you is VERY important. Briefcases, backpacks, or handbags should be positioned to your left so that when the host comes to greet you, you can stand up, collect your items in your left hand so that you can have the right hand free to give a great handshake to the host. Being clumsy while doing this does not project an organized individual. A perception that you want to avoid at all costs.
3. What to Read or Do While Waiting in the Reception Area?
When waiting for the host, avoid texting, and do not talk on the phone. If you do need to check an email or text, someone, do NOT let your attention distract you from the anticipation of the host arriving. Keep an open eye.
Although you can read about the information about the company on your phone, I recommend reading the organization’s annual report instead. Otherwise, the host might think you are just surfing the net. Or, you can opt for a business magazine that is on the table if available. This lets the host know exactly what you are reading. Avoid People and other types of media. These do not communicate that you are there for business. If you bring a book, ensure it is business-related and not a novel of some sort.
4. Eat, Drink, and NOT!
Oftentimes receptionists will ask if you want something to drink. Don’t! You can get that when you go back into the meeting room. Drink and eat prior to the meeting if necessary. If you didn’t get your morning coffee, ask yourself why. Did you not give yourself enough time or did something with the kids take away from that time? Things happen. Prepare the best you can, then go with the flow.
5. Mingle With Others
Prior to the meeting, either in the reception area or outside the meeting room you might have the opportunity to engage with others. Have the small talk. Don’t get into the discussions of the meeting as it’s not your party so to speak. I suggest going on LinkedIn and research the other attendees. This allows you the opportunity to ask questions about things that are relevant to them. Perhaps why those chose their school, or what they liked best working at XYZ. And like greeting the host, if you are introduced by someone, always say your first and last name!
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