Monday, January 31, 2011

Meeting Etiquette 101: Cardinal Rules

So last week I met with someone who had pursued a meeting with me for nearly two months. I respected the person who initially introduced us so I was open to meeting with this woman who had a business idea she apparently wanted to discuss.  Our schedules finally aligned and we scheduled a meeting.

Without boring you too much with all the salacious details let me just say this woman broke some cardinal rules of connecting with someone new.

First, she showed up late.  My dad always taught me to live by the code: To be early is to be on time.  To be on time is to be late.  And to bw late is to be dead.  Punctuality is critical when meeting someone new.

Second, she had lost track of who had introduced us.  Seriously?  You don't remember the gracious email our mutual acquaintance had so happily sent to us both outlining why he felt we should meet?

Third, because she wasn't even aware of who had put this meeting into motion, she didn't even take the time to familiarize herself with me, my background and why she was meeting with me in the first place.  "So remind me...what do you do and why are we meeting?" was actually her opening line.

There are certain cardinal rules I hold near and dear to my heart when I meet with someone new.  I was on time (early by 20 minutes in fact).  I had brushed up on the who, what, when, where and why my friend had suggested we meet.  I knew the lay of the land and had made some mental notes of questions and items that would help facilitate our conversation. I was prepared and ready to help this complete stranger.

Needless to say I tried to be polite.  I even tried to lead this woman down the path of helping herself dig out of the very big hole she had dug herself into.   But she preferred to talk more than listen and her clueless ramblings went on and on until I could take it no more. I had to stop her mid-way through her pitch when it became clear, she was pitching simply because I had a pulse, not because she understood who I was and how I might be able to help her.

I won't tell you how the meeting ended but let me just say it was abrupt.  I wished her luck but got the hell out of there as quickly as I could.  As I left the coffee shop I called the friend who had connected me to this disorganized and inconsiderate woman and relayed the situation to them.  I believe even if a meeting doesn't go well you owe the person who set it in motion an update - whether that be good or bad.

I am sure some of you worry that this very public outing of a meeting might come back to bite me in the hind parts.  Fear not my faithful and loyal readers you see, when I got up to leave this woman said, "Great meeting you Phil."  I smiled and shook her hand and said, "Good luck...You're gonna need it."

Ripple On!!!


Sue Ann said...

I just forwarded this to my director of sales. We have a lot of sales guys over here that don't realize how important making a first impression on a meeting is. Perhaps they should bring you in to speak to them? You do that kind of thing right?

Sue Ann

Cricket said...

Hahahahahaha.... PHIL.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Seriously? How rude.

I think you handled it better than I would have.


Robin Miner said...

Have you thought of turning this into a speech? Many executives need to hear this message.

Maria Gatling said...

You are so good at this! I try to always learn from what I read on your blog and remind myself to be mindful and respectful of others. You are a good coach :)