I prepare for every meeting with every client and potential client by researching them via the many sources available for finding out about people. In that most of my clients are attorneys, it is relatively simple to find out about them by looking at their firm’s website, attorney ratings services, and their bar association. Prior to the advent of the internet, there were heavy books, containing volumes of information about attorneys, including where they attended college and law school, their primary areas of practice, etc. In today’s modern world, this information and much more is readily available on most people’s smart phones, not to mention their computer. There is, in my opinion, no reason not to know something about participants in important meetings well in advance of the meeting. Using me as an example, all one has to do is type my name into any search engine and “Voila!” a mountain of information pops up, including many of my academic publications, my company’s name and website, and other fun facts. David and I attended a recent meeting for which we were the prospective clients. (This is somewhat unusual for us because most of our meetings involve us, as the experts vying for business, with attorneys, insurance adjusters, and others as the prospective clients. Even in this situation, however, most people with whom we meet have conducted a minimal review of our website, such that they know who we are prior to meeting us.) The person with who we met had no idea whatsoever about any of the following information: (1) my name; (2) the fact that my name is preceded by the title, “Dr.”; (3) my occupation as a social psychologist, psychologist in general terms; or even the fact that I have an occupation; (4) my role as “the boss” in my company; (5) the type of business my company is in; and (6) the purpose of our meeting. After arriving to the meeting 30 minutes late, instead of asking who I was, why David and I were there, or any of the customary questions most people ask in similar situations, the person hosting the meeting regaled us with hours of fast talking, rarely “coming up for air,” and never once inquiring why David had requested the meeting. Everything this person said conveyed to me that he had no idea who I am, nor did he care that any decisions about hiring him would be made by me. If only he had done his homework prior to our meeting, he would have learned how to structure his “pitch” to convince me his services were worth my time and money. Always find out about the person(s) with whom you are meeting: You might learn something!
Once again a post was inspired by 1 particular, and unusual, meeting. But, to Melissa and me, it had many problems which are now turned into opportunities to discuss and thus is born another post. Melissa covers the reasons to do one’s homework prior to a meeting. We like to know something about those with whom we are meeting – always! So, we let our fingers do some walking and research the meeting participants. Usually when we meet with people who are considering hiring Magnus for trial consulting work, they have done the same. It is so easy these days to do this. It is really easy when, in our case, we have extensive information available on the internet. (We are up to iteration 5 of our website; the first one went live in 1996 – seems like yesterday.) Anyway, the point is, there is no excuse not to be informed about who one knows he or she will be meeting with in a given meeting. We don’t always know the full list of attendees and, in that case, doing what we are suggesting is clearly impossible. But, the benefits of knowing with whom are you are dealing are numerous – it demonstrates an interest in the other person or persons, and you might just find a connection with the other person that you did not know existed. I have found this many times. And, to now take this post in a different direction, I have also been astonished the number of times job applicants have not done their homework when interviewing for a job at Magnus. If you want to give the impression that you don’t care about getting hired, follow the example of these people. If, instead, you have any desire or hope to be hired – do your homework! You might learn something and you might just get the gig. It won’t happen otherwise.