Everyone’s found themselves in the middle of a pointless meeting or on the end of a conversation that’s going nowhere. And while there’s little you can do in those instances, you can prevent yourself from being the one who wastes other people’s time in the future.
“We’ve all been there: meetings that were anything but productive with contacts we’ll probably never call again,” says Rokas Beresniovas, vice president at the State Bank of India, in a recent LinkedIn post. But instead of walking away feeling discouraged, Beresniovas says he takes note of what went wrong so he can avoid it the next time.
After all, you don’t want to leave a potential partner or client feeling ignored or disrespected. Here are Beresniovas’ tips for ensuring that you always take full advantage of other people’s time:
1. Dress like you care.
Dig out your suit and tie for every meeting. No one will ever fault you for being overdressed. Showing up in sloppy attire immediately tells the other person they weren’t worth enough of your time to look put-together. No matter how casual your workplace — or theirs — may be, Beresniovas recommends always dressing up. “If someone is worth your time for a meeting then they’re worth your time dressing to let them know that,” he says.
2. Remember your function.
During business meetings, remember that you’re representing your company, not yourself. “When I meet new people, they want to know what my position means for them, not what my personal life looked like prior to their meeting me,” says Beresniovas. Don’t start the conversation by sharing unnecessary personal details or giving a rundown of your career history, unless it’s directly related to the topic at hand. “Don’t mistake being friendly with being personal,” he warns. Remember, it’s business — not a date.
3. Ask what they need.
Good business requires give and take. One-sided conversations, and relationships, aren’t at all productive, Beresniovas explains. Simply telling someone want you want without listening to their ideas and capabilities wastes their time (and ultimately, your own). Instead, ask about the other person’s needs before spouting off your own interests. “People are more responsive when they feel that they have already been heard,” Beresniovas says. Forming a balanced relationship will be more beneficial for both sides in the end.
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