Etiquette tips for business meetings
National Business Etiquette Week is this week (June 3-9) and I thought it would be a great idea to share my best etiquette tips for business meetings. They might come handy for different types of meetings:
- With prospective clients when you introduce yourself and discuss how you can help them
- With current clients to go over a plan or some updates
- With a committee for an association you belong to or for a non-profit organization where you volunteer
- With your team or colleagues
- With new vendors because you are thinking about adding them to your database
- Introducing yourself at new event venues
- Walk-throughs at locations with your client and vendor team to discuss the flow on event or wedding day
The meetings could be in person or virtual which is my preference, especially when it comes to recurrent monthly committee meetings. The options for virtual meetings are several: you can use Skype, Zoom, BlueJeans, Appear, or even Facebook Messenger or FaceTime with your phone.
However you connect with other people, make sure you follow certain rules that will allow you to stand out and gain respect. This could also land you new business opportunities because people will see you as a true professional and they will want to work with you.
Don’t be late
This is something that I can’t stand. If I’m late to an appointment I know I will blame myself the entire day and I won’t forgive myself for that. At the same time, I hate when people arrive late at meetings. Always make sure you arrive on time or, even better, early so you can find parking, find the location, the room where the meeting will take place, and so on.
It’s not only a benefit for you because you will be relaxed, ready and comfortable when the other people arrive for the meeting. Being on time shows respect for the people you’re meeting with.
If something happens (traffic, unexpected phone call from a very important client) and you are late to the meeting, the best thing to do is to call and let them know you’ll get there 5-10-15 minutes late. Just don’t make any excuses; you have to take responsibility for that. Again, being late is not polite but sometimes things can go beyond our control and calling them to show that you care is much better than just showing up late. I always make sure that I have phone numbers of the people I’m meeting stored in my phone so I can quickly call them and let them know how far I am from the location.
I don’t know if this just happens to me but, did you ever schedule meetings or walk-throughs with your clients and your vendor team, and one of them shows up in flip flops or unshaved, for instance? Let me tell you, that doesn’t really send a great message to the client. It doesn’t show that you care about that client, and maybe you will do the same on the event day just looking unprofessional. Pay attention to your outfit, personal hygiene, if you’re a woman put makeup on, you know what I mean… Look professional! Your personal image is a reflection of your brand. Nobody wants to do business with people who don’t take care of their appearance
Prepare in advance
This is another thing that drives me crazy at meetings. People who show up and they are not prepared with their presentation or report. They don’t have the requested documents with them and they didn’t remember to scan them or upload them to the cloud so they can access them remotely. My tip is to save a copy on Google Drive or Dropbox. This is something that I always do: it saves paper and I don’t have to carry binders or folders with me.
If it’s a team meeting, come prepared with an agenda, a list of objectives or goals that you need to discuss as well as possible solutions that you are suggesting. This will encourage others to share their thoughts and ideas and generate a productive meeting.
Say hi to everyone, greet them properly! Don’t be rude or ignore people attending. If you called the meeting, make sure you introduce everyone to each other, and maybe you can ask each attendee to say a little about themselves. This is especially helpful if it’s a committee meeting, something that I do regularly for non-profit events where we have new volunteers participating all the time.
Make eye contact, smile whenever possible, don’t interrupt others when they’re talking, bring a positive attitude to the meeting, and be engaged in the conversations, be active and considerate during the meeting.
This brings me to the next tip…
Always listen when people talk and present or explain something during the meeting. Ask relevant questions to show interest and to get additional information and details that can be useful for the success of the event that you’re planning together. When you listen you can learn more about a client’s need or problem, and be able to address or solve it as a result. This can be a very powerful weapon when you meet with a prospective client: listen to their needs, their problems, their vision, their dreams. You will then be able to craft a solution for them, to create a package or a level of assistance that will get you hired.
Put that phone down!
I know, it sounds very difficult to stop all the activities on your phone and concentrate only on your meeting but it needs to be done. Silence your electronic devices: phone, tablet, computer. You should not answer phone calls, check social media updates or respond to emails during that time. It’s very disruptive to the meeting and people might think that they’re not important enough. This is a must when you meet with prospective clients. Give them undivided attention, this will show them that you will give them undivided attention when they hire you for their event or wedding.
Some suggest that your electronic devices should be kept out of sight, even left in the car. That way you’re not tempted to check them during the meeting and they’re not distracting you. However, I use my electronic devices to access documents in the cloud (as I mentioned before, on Google Drive or in my event management software). They’re with me during the meeting but they’re on silent mode.
You will definitely receive calls or messages while you’re in the meeting but you can return calls and respond to emails when you’re done. They can wait.
There is an exception when you’re meeting with someone. Maybe you have an event happening at the same time where your associates are managing the event. In that case, you should inform the people at the meeting that you might be receiving a call if something doesn’t go as planned at one of your events, and you need to be ready to take the call. They will understand.
After the meeting:
Either call back or send an email to show appreciation for their time, for their ideas, for putting the meeting together, and so on. People will love that. And, if it’s a client you’re thanking, they will appreciate the gesture and they will see you care about them!
Bottom line: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you don’t like when people don’t pay attention to you, they interrupt you and don’t respect what you do or say, then make sure you don’t do the same.