A meeting is a meeting, right? Well, no. Sometimes you meet with people just to get to know them. Neither of you has an agenda. The tone is friendly because you want to see what you might have in common. You’re networking, whether for business or pleasure. You might exchange business cards and promise to stay in touch.
Then there are more formal meetings. These are scheduled because you have an agenda. You want specific information or action as a result of this meeting. Perhaps you want the secrets of another artist’s success with public art commissions. Or maybe you want to find out from your gallery dealer what you could be doing to drive more sales. You also schedule meetings to show your art to a consultant or prospective buyer.
When you have an agenda, it’s important to be prepared. Here are eight sure-fire tips.
1. Be clear with the other person why you are requesting a meeting. Let’s call that other person your guest since they are invited at your request.
2. Schedule a location and time that are most convenient for your guest. After all, it’s you who wants something. Do everything possible to make it easy for them to help you out.
3. Do your homework. Write down specific questions you can ask at the meeting. Find out as much as you can about your guest. Google their name and affiliations. Check out your guest’s blog and presence on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. With this background information, you can open your meeting by complimenting your guest on an accomplishment.
4. Confirm your appointment–including location and time–the day before.
5. On the day of the meeting, gather what you need: notebook, pen, laptop, portfolio, sketchbook, business cards, etc.
6. Arrive early. Get directions well in advance (and email them to your guest if appropriate). Arriving early will ensure that you’re calm and collected for the conversation.
7. Silence your cell phone and focus on your guest. Do not multitask while you’re meeting! Multitasking makes the other person feel unimportant and is no way to build a relationship. This is equally true of phone meetings. Anyone on the other end of a phone line knows when you’re attention is splattered.
8. End your meeting graciously and on time. Say, “You’ve been so helpful to me today. I appreciate your time. Is there anything I can do for you?”
FINAL WORD: Time is money! If you ask for a meeting, it’s your responsibility to set the agenda. Prepare well ahead of time and respect your guest’s other commitments.
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