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Meetings are perhaps the most powerful personal branding tool there is. They also make up a lot of the time you spend at work, so it’s important not to waste these precious opportunities. Most importantly, meetings are where the people you need to influence all come together. So if you want to build your brand and expand your career success, focus on meetings.
How many of these personal “brand killers” have you observed at work?
Just winging it might seem like good time management, but it won’t help you build your brand. When you consistently show up to meetings without having prepared, people take note, and your brand traits become “mediocre performer” and “doesn’t care about quality.” To prepare for a meeting efficiently, with your personal brand in mind, ask yourself these questions:
You might think it makes you look like you’re a busy, in-demand executive, but in fact, you just look like you can’t manage your schedule, or worse, that this meeting isn’t that important to you. Or even worse, that you like to go on power trips by making people wait for your grand entrance. Show up on time, ready to make an impact.
Some participants in meetings only pay attention when the topic is related to their area of expertise. At that time, they’re paying attention and contributing, but when the topic changes, they blatantly signal that they are no longer interested. They stop making eye contact with anything other than their phone. They start up a side conversation with a colleague. They clatter away on their laptops, clearly working on something unrelated to the meeting. These behaviours tell others that you’re selfish, you don’t think they’re important, and you’re not interested in what others have to say. Commit to being engaged for the entire meeting.
When you sit up, you show people you’re engaged and interested. When you slouch, especially when combined with blatant, repeated yawning, you’re sending the message that you’re disrespectful and easily bored. Good posture makes a good impression, and that’s what personal branding is all about.
When you ask a question, just ask. Don’t precede it with “I know I should know this, but…” or “Is it OK if I ask a question” or “This may be a dumb question, but…” When you precede your question with qualifiers like those, you’re telling people you aren’t confident. Ask your question directly, without excuse.
When you can make your case in a concise and effective way, you impress those around you. No one wants to spend more time in a meeting than they need to. Don’t drift in a meeting and stay on point. When you make a meeting productive, you become a hero in your colleagues’ minds.
It’s rude to tune out and even ruder to tune out by tuning into your Instagram account or email inbox. Yes, people can see you using it under the conference table, too. If it’s just too tempting, put it in your pocket or purse, or better yet, leave it in your office. That will make it more likely that you’ll be focused and involved for the entire meeting.
Keep this list in mind when you prepare for your next meeting and see if you can avoid all these meeting no-noes. When you eliminate all of these behaviours, you’ll be able to make a mark and effectively use meetings to build your personal brand.
Suggestions for you