Just a few days back I happened to walk into one of Pakistan’s most successful company’s office to meet with a senior executive in their management.
My purpose was to seek an opportunity for business and to enhance my understanding on a topic that was of mutual interest. I was surprised to see that although I had been invited by the person herself, the meeting was as wry as if it had been forced to happen.
Our small talk started casually enough and just when I thought the conversation was nearing an interesting corner, it abruptly came to an end. And it seemed as if any of my efforts to carry on were futile.
I believe that people in the corporate sector are trained to become agenda oriented, manage their time in a flurry of multi tasking activities and over time lose the human touch.
This lag in communication hurts business reputation especially when networking and building relationships is crucial to any company’s success.In my experience, there are five things that one must keep in mind when going into a networking meeting. These help you lead the meeting and make those necessary connections
Prepare to mingle
It is important to leave the shy traits at home when your job requires you to meet new people and build relationships. Specially in stakeholder meetings, it is wise to be prepared to appear warm and interested in what other people have to say.
Plus it always helps to not just know someone but also for them to be connected to you. Who knows what might be useful at which point in your career. These five tips can be helpful in making that connection.
Tell a story
PR is all about telling stories. Take the initiative in the meeting. Talk about the industry or a funny incident you recently experienced. Make that extra effort to keep the person interested.
Talk about a new restaurant when conversation runs thin. Ask them about how they do things in their business and try to offer insight without any agenda attached to it.
Initiate discussions but keep them light. Everyone likes a good conversation. So give your stakeholder a good time.
Dress for it
Any meeting with an important stakeholder cannot be generalized. If you are meeting with someone from the government, you may need to dress formally. If it is a media gathering, you need to dress for the occasion.
These details will add credibility to what you will say. Present thoughtfully in each of your meetings and people will respect you for it.
Share statistics from the industry
Give your audience something they can take back with them. Talking about the business in general and mention statistics will get you that superior position in any conversation.
If you are well versed in the business language, people will ask you questions and there is no better engagement with stakeholders than when they know who to come to for expert knowledge. Establish your expertise with your stakeholders and leave them with something they can discuss even when you are not there.
Make that connection of knowledge sharing and make your meeting an opportunity for everyone present. This one goes a long way.
Make the call to action
Always leave the meeting with a promise to share something, to meet again or to engage on any one of the social networks. Your call to action will make you appear friendly, consistent and resourceful.
Use this wisely and tactfully as your stakeholder might perceive this in a number of ways. Your judgement of the situation would determine, how you should approach the person the next time you engage.
What is important at the end of any meeting is that you were there to make that lasting impression and will sustain that relationships over time.
Successful PR is all about coming back for more.
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