Here are six best practice guidelines to ensure you make the right impression from the beginning to the end of your encounter.
Amid the excitement of coming up with new ideas and reaching out to people who can help you bring them to life, founders can sometimes forget the unwritten rules of etiquette, says Rohan Workman, director of Melbourne University’s startup accelerator program MAP.
Workman is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs expand their skills and giving new startups the boost they need to get up and running. In addition, he recently provided entrepreneurs with critical etiquette advice in a StartupSmart podcast.
Whether you’re meeting a mentor, investor or a colleague, there are some basic actions that will go a long way in your professional life.
1. Landing the meeting
According to Workman, if you’re trying to connect and set up a meeting in order to discuss your new idea, a good approach (either written or on the phone) should read:
“Hi. I’m working on this idea (brief explanation) and I’d like to have a chat to you about it. How are you placed to catch up on this date/time?”
2. Be respectful to everyone no matter their status
Once you secure that all-important important meeting, adopt a courteous and respectful mindset making sure to include everyone in the conversation.
“I’ve had younger female colleagues who have been unimpressively treated by people we’ve been meeting with,” says Workman. “For me there’s no clearer sign of disrespect.”
3. Be aware of your conversation style
Don’t interrupt. We might be so eager to offer opinions or push a point that we often interrupt others mid-sentence. When it’s time to say your piece, be assertive rather than aggressive.
Keep your language in check. Verbal and written communication is much less formal than it was in the past, and if you have built up a rapport with someone it can be easy to assume that certain colloquial language or slang is appropriate.
However, you still need to choose your words wisely. It goes without saying that rude or deprecating language is unprofessional, and so is slang to many people.
4. Communicate the reason for the meeting
“At a meeting everyone knows you’re there to ask for something, so express clearly what you want,” says Workman.
Do you need someone’s feedback on a project or do you need help finding those initial customers? Whatever it is, save everyone time and make your intentions and desired outcomes clear at the start of the meeting.
5. Always be on time
Workman was ‘blown away’ by the behaviour of someone who requested they chat about their idea, but called 20 minutes late. This turned Workman off as he had been prepared to give up his advice and time freely.
6. Follow through
Follow up your meetings with a thank you email and an outline of the actions you’ve agreed on, says Workman.
Having communicated your appreciation, briefly restate your query and follow up with the original person who made the introductions in the first place.