Make Your Meeting a Success

Simple etiquette can help you seal the deal

LIF_HolidayEtiquitteInside1You’ve made contact and are hoping to acquire a new client, get more business from a current one, or finalize a deal that’s in the works. You’ve set a lunch date with the premise of gaining a rapport that will lead to a successful business relationship. Fonzworth Bentley, style expert and author of Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence, and Style to Get Ahead (Random House; $24.95), knows just how the right touch of class, etiquette, and polish can turn a restaurant bill into more money in the bank.

BlackEnterprise.com talked with Bentley about how to set a standard that will make a good impression and help close the deal.

DO greet appropriately upon meeting the client. “Direct eye contact, a smile, and an excellent, great handshake” are a must, Bentley says. “I’ve been paying attention to people’s handshakes lately … The extra hard ones are inappropriate. Really work on your handshake and [find a balance].”

DO research the client, the subject of conversation, and come well prepared. Be conscious of cultural differences or dietary limitations when choosing the restaurant or dish, Bentley says. “You don’t want to choose a restaurant that cooks beef right in front of you and someone doesn’t eat meat,” he adds.

DO appropriately follow-up after the meeting. Bentley recommends sending personalized notes to give your follow-up a personal touch. “Because we’re in this tech age, when you do have your own stationary and thank you notes, it means that much more,” Bentley says. Thank the client for their time, reference something you talked about or learned, and talk about a next step or specific point of action with times or dates, Bentley adds.

Also, understand and know how quickly you’d like to follow up. Bentley recommends corresponding within the next three days of the meeting.

DON’T make the conversation one-sided. “You never want to come off as a know-it-all,” he says. One of the most important things is “silence, taking notes, and asking questions.”

DON’T order an elaborate meal that does not accommodate free dialogue. “You’re going to be doing a lot of talking and pitching ideas. Be cognizant of what you order. Keep it simple,” Bentley says.

DON’T forget polite table manners. For example, “Don’t ever just assume you can sit. Ask ‘May I,’” Bentley says. “It’s just polite.”

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