Each and every day, professionals go into umpteen business meetings. Some are to collaborate, some are negotiations, while others are to start a new business relationship or closing one with the hopes to working with each other sometime in the future.
While business in itself seems like quite a formal and cold term, we should always remember that the people we are going into business with are human beings. This is the first step, or rather, the foundation of making sure you handle the business meeting scenario, successfully.
Business leaders around the world are harping on the importance of creating human connections. It is fine to be professional, in fact, it is a necessity. But what is more important is to find a fundamental connect. Given the prolonged hours we spend at our workplace, we all need to feel alive and conversations help us do that. Infusing the warmth of these conversations in our daily work life (in a professional manner, of course) can help us stay ahead when it comes to meetings and negotiations where both parties stand to win.
Here are 7 pointers to help you up your game when it comes to business meetings.
Addressing a person by their name:
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
There is a particular familiarity and comfort attached to anyone’s name. When you address someone by their name, you will feel that unseen barrier that you feel between you and your acquaintance, melt away.
Calling someone by their name makes the conversation easier. And the more you use it in your conversation, the more rapt the person becomes in what you are saying. This is not a trick. It is as Dale Carnegie mentioned, “the sweetest and most important sound” to any person, is their name.
But we must be careful to pronounce the name correctly. In today’s world where we meet people from across countries and cultures who use various scripts, pronunciation, and intonation, it is always courteous to learn how to pronounce one’s name before actually saying it out aloud. You can ask outright as to how they pronounce their name and they will appreciate you for you candor instead of pronouncing their name, incorrectly.
Breaking ice with anecdotes
Even if it is a business meeting or a networking session, a 5-minute ice breaking session won’t do any harm. In fact, there is a high chance that it will get your acquaintance to be a bit more open about what you have to talk about next.
Breaking ice with anecdotes is a good way to open a conversation after exchanging details of who you are and what you do. Weave them into your conversation in some way. Technically, the moment you share something about your life (yourself or your experience) with someone you boost the trust factor. People trust you for sharing something about yourself, which helps them let their guard down and get talking.
Mirroring body language
This is something you don’t really need to do actively if you are really into the conversation.
Read about it here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirroring_(psychology)
By mirroring the other individual’s body language like smiling when they smile, maintaining eye contact and other such effects, you can actually make the conversation way more powerful than just a chit-chat. This will hold the attention of the person whom you’re talking to. This can be especially beneficial at a networking event or a soiree where is there is a lot of noise and distraction going on in the background.
Mirroring works in another way, too. You can always approach the person you want to talk to with a smile. Not just a smile, for the sake of smiling but a true, heartfelt, warm smile. And, it will be reciprocated with a similar heartfelt smile. I have seen this working with the most serious of individuals over the course of my life. Everybody loves a warm smile and greeting. By being the first person to extend it, you help the other person reciprocate, or rather mirror the same behavior.
Listening intently and trying not to think ahead
There are many ways of showing to a person that you are truly listening to them. One of the most important ways is actually listening without trying to think ahead on what to say next. Nothing can be a bigger turn-off than talking to someone whose eyes are gazing into space lost in thoughts of what to say next. When we are truly invested in a conversation, we will keep coming up with more things to talk about.
When it comes to business meetings and negotiations, it is important to keep repeating what you have heard last and using affirmations such as, right, I understand, that’s true, etc. This gives you a second chance at finding out what you heard was correct and what you understood from it was right. If there is any ambiguity, it can be sorted there and then.
This is a great way to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. Be clear about everything by checking on it, once again.
Asking the right questions
You can always steer the conversation by asking the right questions that pertain to the business opportunity or answering some which can help you get you and your business acquaintance gain clarity, sooner. Everybody likes a conversation where the people seem to know what they are talking about and what is it that they want as an outcome of the conversation.
Another way of prepping yourself for a meeting with a person whom you have never met before is by learning a bit more about them from their social media presence. This is one of the best ways to know what works for the person in question and what doesn’t. You can learn about their interests from LinkedIn and Twitter.
Their recommendations are the best way to learn about them as a professional and how they are to work with. Their skills and education will also shed some light on what kind of subject they will be eager and comfortable to talk about. The might have anecdotes about the cities where they have studied. There is so much to learn about an individual from their profile and it will only help you understand them better when you are meeting them.
It could be a business meeting, it could be a negotiation, but we shouldn’t forget the fact that there are people involved here. Humans with thoughts and emotions that lie at the core of every individual. These are just a few pointers to help make your business meeting a success. However, the best advice here could be only one to start with, empathy and a genuine interest.