Like many 20-somethings new to the workplace, you may be freaking out about your first important business meeting. And you may be wondering how to prepare for that first chance you have to really impress.
After all, you can never be too prepared going into a business meeting… and you only get that one chance to make a great first impression.
Here are five ways to ace your first crucial business meeting…
Research the People
Don’t be afraid to do a little bit of stalking (come on, everyone does it). You should know at least a little bit about the people attending the meeting. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever to look up professionals you may be interacting with.
There’s one universally important tool, however: a quick Google search. It will reveal information about these people from other sources. Using the power of research, you’ll find information about the players of the meeting that reinforces company culture. This includes tidbits such as their hometown and interests.
Know Your Role
A business meeting usually has an agenda created a few days beforehand. By studying this agenda, you’ll get a sense of your role in the meeting. Consider these questions if you get stuck:
- Why were you invited to the meeting?
- What is the purpose of the meeting?
- What do they expect of you?
- How should you participate?
Once you figure out your role, get ready to deliver your knowledge with extra finesse. This means bringing up relevant facts and data, a unique perspective, or an in-depth analysis. You were invited for a reason, so show everyone why you belong!
Hone Your Listening Skills
While it’s important to step up and make your feelings known in a business meeting, it’s even more important to listen. Make use of active listening skills, so you can engage yourself in what a speaker is saying. Active listening skills include:
- Turning off your phone
- Making eye contact with the speaker
- Nodding when the speaker makes a point you agree with
- Raising your hand when a speaker asks a question
- Asking questions to the speaker
By practicing active listening, you’ll benefit from paying attention. More importantly, however, you build a relationship with the presenter.
Dress to Impress
Don’t reserve appropriate dress for job interviews alone. You may think you should pull out your finest suit right away, but hold up. There’s a golden rule when it comes to meeting attire: wear something that will be fitting to your audience. Here are some examples:
- Will the meeting be filled with customers of your company? | In this case, think about the customer’s perception of your company when they see you. What kind of vibe do you give off? Hopefully, not one that will make a customer feel like they’re taking a risk when talking to you.
- Is the meeting with important business investors or clients? | In this case, switch out bold jewelry for classic pieces and the Polo shirt for a professional suit. You can always ditch the jacket if your clients are looking for a more casual atmosphere.
Chances are, you don’t know everyone in your company. Meetings are a great time to break away from your small department and mingle with some new people.
Take advantage of meetings by arriving a few minutes early. This will give you time to make small talk with some new faces. Some light socializing sets a more positive tone and hopefully makes everyone feel more comfortable. Who knows? You might make a new friend or important connection.
So crawl out from under that rock. You need to eventually, or you’ll lose your job! A business Meeting isn’t that bad if you spend some time preparing. Follow these steps and you’ll stand out positively, which will lead to further benefits in your career.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Campus to Career!