Sunday, March 11, 2007

CLIMBING UP THE CAREER LADDER: Know What to Do in a Business Meeting

The business world has its own set of protocols to guide you to success.

So you have to know what to do in a business meeting.

A business meeting is one of its aspects that can bring out the best and worst in your corporate persona. From product presentations to negotiating accounts receivables, a simple meeting is like being the star in a Broadway play. Every action you make will have an impact into your proposal. Consequently, you will be evaluated and judged all in one sitting. So how do you become a master in this corporate ‘song-and-dance’?

• Be prepared. Not only do you have to know your material inside out but you have to anticipate their reaction to it. Make notes ahead on the possible questions the other side would have. Bring all the possible material that you might need to refer to. On the day of the presentation, take pains in your appearance. Aim to blend with the company’s corporate image – formal for banks, insurance companies and the like; more toned down and casual for advertising firms or construction companies. You wouldn’t want to overshadow the person/s you’ll meet. Same goes for jewelry and make-up for the ladies. Being on time is also a big plus factor.

• Business matters are serious but try and relax before and during the meeting. All the practice and preparations in the world will go down the drain if you are so nervous that you end up stuttering your piece, sweating buckets or worse, getting a memory block. Some people suggest focusing on your surroundings first before the start of the meeting. If you are the one to meet them in their office, complement the d├ęcor or mention something trivial as the traffic or the weather. If they are the ones coming to your office, offer coffee or drinks. Do what you can to break the ice and start the conversation on a light footing.

• Keep in mind that in a business meeting, both sides will have different opinions. The trick is to learn to compromise and not too loose your temper. Say you are presenting paperwork detailing the invoices that the other company hasn’t paid yet. However, they are claiming that they are fully paid. Request for some documents and promise them an immediate update once you relay the matter to your own finance people. The same goes for clients who would like preferential treatment or those who are offering an alternative course of payments for delinquent accounts. Offer to meet them halfway. Should the matter be beyond your authority, always promise to refer it to higher management and do not commit anything further than what you are allowed. Your willingness to compromise will earn you a reputation for fair play and that’s definitely good for your career.

Remember, good meetings will produce goodwill. And goodwill will always bring good revenue.

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