Maybe you work one-on-one with the head honcho every day or perhaps you only get a face-to-face on the very rare occasion. Whenever you get the chance to sit down and have a meeting with the big guns, it’s best to make it as productive as possible. It’s also a chance to show your stuff and leave a lasting impression of who you are and what you have to offer. Here’s 10 ways to help you do that.
- Ask for an agenda prior to the meeting – If there’s not one available, offer to create one to help keep the meeting focused and on track. If the meeting is less formal than that, be sure the goal of the meeting is at least spoken out loud and agreed upon by both of you. Knowing the goal of the meeting you can then gather any appropriate documentation you might need to take with you. For example, if the meeting is to review your performance and discuss a possible promotion, you would want to bring copies of letters from clients complimenting you on your work, a table showing your recent sales and the impact they had on your team, etc.
- Dress to impress – Not much needs to be said about this one except that it is more important than you probably think. Even if the normal dress at your company is fairly casual, step it up a few notches. You want your boss to take notice. You should look better than you do on a regular basis.
- Take notes during the meeting – This shows that you are listening and that you plan to review what was discussed later. It also indicates that you are already considering the follow up that will be done after the meeting. The notes are handy for exactly this reason. You may come out of the meeting with a list of action items that you will need to remember to take care of in the future.
- Show enthusiasm and positivity – Plain and simple. Just like you do for a job interview, put on the shiny-happy hat. Yes, it’s true that sometimes you have to address a complaint, and in that case see number 5….
- Bring solutions – Never enter a meeting with a complaint that you don’t have at least one solution for. I know this is difficult but how are you going to enter a meeting with your boss, hand him a problem and then say “you work it out”? He’s going to throw it right back to you and ask what you think the answer is. Go in prepared. In my opinion, you should take 2 or 3 possible solutions. If you are absolutely stuck, you must express that you’ve given the topic much consideration and ruled out several possible solutions in the process. At least then you’ve shown the effort.
- Build rapport – Make a connection with your boss. This is going to vary for every situation but try to show a little personality. Most people in a leadership position have great social personalities. You just have to coax it out of them sometimes. If you know their favorite ball team, comment on how they’ve been doing. If you know they play golf, ask how their game is doing. If they like jazz, tell them about a new jazz band you heard recently. Do your research and be prepared for a little small talk.
- Show vision – Don’t be afraid to voice big ideas. Show your understanding (or curiosity) for the bigger picture. Don’t limit yourself by sticking topics related only to your job. Show broad interest and they’ll start looking at you as a potential future leader.
- Ask clarification questions – Don’t ever – and I mean EVER – say that you understand something if you don’t. I can’t stress this enough. It’s like the episode of Seinfeld when George is working on a project for his boss and he has no idea what it is. George didn’t hear him but then acted like he understood the assignment. Next thing he knew, he was in charge of something that was a complete mystery. Excellent episode. But also very true. People always nod and go along with things in a meeting thinking that later they can figure it out. Don’t leave that office with questions. I have learned that the hard way. So now, I ask questions and then, before I leave, I restate what we’ve discussed and accomplished.
- Send thanks – Either by email, mail or with a telephone call, let your boss know you appreciate the time they spent with you. Whatever is most appropriate. I see my boss everyday and meet with him everyday but if we have a special one-on-one, I make sure to say thank you at the end of the day to reinforce that I know it was out of the ordinary and I appreciate the time.
- Follow up – If you leave with a list of action items, try to establish agreed upon dates when they should be accomplished. Then, follow through and meet that deadline. I used to work with someone who talked big during meetings and then never followed through. So meetings became pointless. Don’t let this happen and think your boss won’t notice. He’ll notice. He might not approach the topic but he’ll notice.
Written for Dumb Little Man by Chrissy of The Execuitve Assistant’s Tool Box. Visit her site for more on professional or personal development. Popular posts include 5 Tips for Better Relationships at Work and How to Be Proactive.