Talk of etiquette in a meeting in 2019 conjures up images of stuffy office environments and shirts buttoned all the way up, not the increasingly global and casual office culture of today. So, is business meeting etiquette irrelevant? Not so fast. Whilst internal meetings are now far more casual affairs, meetings with existing or potential clients, and beyond, still require a certain level of formality that’s unlikely to disappear any time soon. This increases further when dealing with international clients as different cultures can be more or less traditional and some actions can be misinterpreted in a negative light though, thankfully, it’s quite easy to avoid.
Business etiquette is rather a handy thing to have a refresher on every so often. At its core, it’s all about building successful and long-lasting relationships between clients, employees, and customers. Think of it as a chance for you and your business to maximise its potential for success from the outset. If you’re unsure how to put the best foot forward then LEO’s guide is here to help, below are some easy steps to remember and incorporate in your next business meeting.
This evergreen piece of advice is always going to be relevant, across different countries and time zones too, as it demonstrates respect for everyone’s time. There’s the old saying, ‘If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late’, that’s worth keeping in mind. Remember, it’s all about those instant impressions and arriving even a minute late to a seated room should be avoided when possible.
If you’re the meeting’s organiser, then it’s even more imperative to arrive early so you’re able to greet everyone and prepare the room alongside any resources you may need. It’s worth mentioning that arriving too early is also a bad look as it may interfere with the organiser’s preparations; instead, give yourself about a five-minute window for settling in and any small talk.
Find the Right Setting
It would be wonderful if we could all work in sleek and conveniently-located offices that could impress clients from all over the world. Although that’s not always an option, hiring a meeting room that ticks all those boxes is.
It’s not just about impressing clients with stylish interiors, convenience is another factor to consider especially if your own office is further away from well-connected locations than is otherwise ideal. International clients, for example, are likely to be appreciative of a location that minimises further travel, potentially scoring you some bonus points before the meeting has even begun. Browse LEO’s range of stylish and fantastically-located London meeting rooms to find the right one for you.
Put Your Phone Away
Our increasingly digital culture means we always want to be connected and sometimes spend a meeting in anticipation of an important call or email. Sometimes this is unavoidable but it’s best to make it into a habit, especially when meeting with existing and potential clients. Ensure that your phone is on silent and out of sight. Just like arriving early shows respect, so does giving someone your full attention during a meeting.
If you typically keep your phone on the table, face down, then take the next step and place it out sight. It may even lead to you feeling naturally more engaged during the meeting, contributing better ideas and taking more comprehensive notes.
Be Culturally Aware
The global nature of many businesses means that you’re likely to encounter individuals from different cultures that observe different customs. Taking a little time to research these will help to avoid common blunders and further demonstrate your willingness and understanding to create a working relationship. After all, it’s the little things that count. In many regions, like India and the Middle East, it is polite to offer and receive objects with the right hand only. When meeting associates from Japan, have a business card ready and be sure to handle any business cards you receive with extra care.
Having awareness of these little things doesn’t cost you anything but it can pay off in a big way, even providing a competitive advantage over those that didn’t do their research.
Keep any and all promises of following up after the meeting by actually following up. This is the final step in creating that good impression if the meeting was with clients, and ensuring that things discussed are properly actioned which applies to both internal and client meetings. You can choose to have a designated note taker to send minutes and a follow-up email, though in many instances it will be more personal to do it from the meeting organiser’s side. Feeling unsure which one to pick? Think which of the options would make you feel better, accounting for the cultural factors, and proceed accordingly. Don’t worry too much though, the act of following up itself is already a sign of good business etiquette.
Business etiquette is a broad-ranging subject and there’s not really a need to focus on its endless nuances. Most of the advice to remember is as true today as it was some fifty years ago! A successful business meeting is one where everyone feels listened to and respected, followed up where appropriate – now that’s something we can all keep up with. Ready to start planning for a great business meeting? LEO’s selection of luxury meeting rooms, from cosy spaces to impressive boardrooms, are on hand to help.