The wrong impression can cost you an important business deal
Jul 05, 2015
Many of us go into business meetings misled about the important role meetings play in keeping one in the loop. Believe it or not, important things do happen at meetings - the most important of these is that people learn about each other. Judgments and impressions are made and opportunities to impress abound, according to Jodie Vesey, an etiquette expert who works with us at Laurie Richards & Associates.
One misstep, warns Vesey, and an important business deal could go down the drain.
"I've seen too many business relationships fall apart in meetings," says Vesey. "People sometimes take a meeting for granted and then they wonder why they didn't finish the deal."
Vesey notes that there are ways to avoid missteps. Here then, are some tips from her on how to best take advantage of these opportunities.
- Arrive at the meeting on time or even a little bit early. Arriving late impresses no one and, in fact, is an insult to those who made it on time. If the meeting starts at 10 a.m., be there no later than 10 a.m.
- Enter the meeting room with a friendly confidence and looking your professional best. Shake hands with your colleagues and introduce yourself to those attendees that you do not know.
- Be fully prepared. Have the agenda, pertinent papers and a pen in front of you. This will keep you from having to fish around while everyone waits for you. Avoid running back and forth to your desk to retrieve something that should have been in front of you in the first place. Not being prepared will give others the impression that you are a disorganized person.
- Your briefcase does not go on the table or on a spare chair. It belongs on the floor. The same holds true for purses.
- The types of business accessories you use speak volumes about your level of professionalism. Carry a leather briefcase and notebook. No plastic, canvas or something that looks like it belongs on the space shuttle. Own a quality writing instrument, preferably one that does not have the name of a hotel on the side of it. (Unless, of course, you work for a hotel!) These small details are what will set you apart from the ordinary.
- Do not look bored, even if you are. Right about the time you tune out, something of importance will be said and you will miss out. Avoid playing - no paper clip people, rubber band instruments, or doodle masterpieces. If you keep both feet on the floor and lean forward, you will look and feel more attentive. Leaning back with your leg on you knee is altogether too casual. If you start to feel sleepy, get up and throw a piece of paper away in the garbage can. This will get the blood flowing and give you a quick boost.
- Speak up, but keep it brief and to the point. We all know how painful it is to sit through someone's aimless ramblings. Do not interrupt, no matter how much you disagree with what is being said. If you disagree with someone, never publicly criticize that person. You will lose respect and the person you are attacking will gain office sympathy. Think before you speak and try to use positive language as often as possible.
If you make the effort to pull all of these tips together at future business meetings, you will create a stronger professional image for yourself. You will also gather more information than ever before, and soon, you will be looking forward to meetings as an opportunity to let yourself shine!
Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker who works with thousands of executives and association leaders. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, Richards works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals on improving communication at every level. She also lends her voice to video and audio programs in voice-over work. Richards’ experience as an international speaker and speaker coach comes into play as she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crisis (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line -- including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings. Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using proven Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other valid instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees. Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council—the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful, “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. Richards has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, and managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies and associations. Richards is described as "enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening." Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Her business clients span throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia giving her first-hand experience and cross-cultural awareness. To remain relevant, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities. Richards has degrees in communication and business management and has earned masters’ degrees in business management and psychology. She has a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. Richards is currently working toward her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.