“All that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions” – Tim Ferriss
Preparation is critical to any successful interview, meeting and work engagement. Think about a meeting you had recently that felt like a complete waste of time and an hour of your life you know you will never get back. Most likely, it lacked structure and an agenda. When you take charge and prepare an agenda ahead of time, you are already the hero of the meeting.
We do not have a lot of disposable time so we need to ensure our precious minutes are used wisely. Consider the impression you can make when you plan ahead and ensure the team is aligned.
Preparation isn’t just about the work, have you ever thought to research who you being interviewed by or who you are meeting with if it’s a new contact or client? Look over their LinkedIn profile, read some of their tweets or blog posts if available.
When chatting in your meeting, use your knowledge to show them you have taken the time to research them and planned appropriately.
You can say something like, ‘I really enjoyed your article on X, have you ever read this author?’ Or, ‘I saw a few of your tweets and I think you would find this site really interesting.’ It is not sucking up or coming across inauthentic – quite the contrary, actually. It is about forming a genuine connection beyond the work.
Take some time to research the relevant company or industry trends so you have the relevant knowledge. Knowledge is power because it enables you to come with the right questions. When you show up online or face to face and you have done your preparation, you immediately put yourself above the rest. This simple action portrays you as taking initiative and develops trust much quicker.
Author, Ty Bennett, says there’s a fundamental rule of business that states: “People do business with people they know, like, trust and value.”
“Honesty and likeability are important, but if people don’t see you as valuable, they will never do business with you. If you don’t come across as professional, knowledgeable, and credible with the right skill set to get the job done, you will never be as influential and successful as you would like”.
“You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.” – Vironika Tugaleva
The ability to share your views and add value in a meeting, brainstorm or conversation is how you develop your brand. Preparation without participation is not enough to cultivate a powerful reputation. I know you may feel shy or apprehensive because you’re thinking ‘what if I come across stupid or what if my idea gets shot down?
The reality is that if you don’t offer your opinion or share your insights, you become labelled as ‘the quiet one who never speaks up in meetings’. Or you are thought of as the discreet one who takes really excellent notes.
The perceived risk of speaking up and sharing your ideas will elevate your brand a lot further than staying quiet. Great ideas can come from any person on the team; the more you can be comfortable getting uncomfortable, the more you are developing your courage muscle. You don’t need to get on a stage and do public speaking to push you out of your comfort zone.
If you have stayed quiet up till now, challenge yourself to ask a question in the next meeting. Prepare ahead of time so you feel confident and you’ll be amazed at the results.
“How you carry your body shapes how you carry out your life. Your body shapes your mind. Your mind shapes your behaviour. And your behaviour shapes your outcomes. Let your body tell you that you’re powerful and deserving, and you become more present, enthusiastic, and authentically you” – Amy Cuddy
Like it or not, the second you walk through the door or appear online, others will start sizing up your physical presence. In the context of a face to face interaction, how confidently do you walk in? How firmly do you shake hands? How are you holding yourself? In those first few moments, people are making decisions based on everything they observe.
So what exactly are you telling them?
If you’re constantly fidgeting, pulling at your skirt, drumming your fingers, checking your phone, biting your nails, twirling your hair, tapping your pen… stop.
The essence of a powerful personal brand is self-awareness because once you become aware of these habits, you can control them.
The way you carry yourself is a source of personal power — the kind of power that is the key to developing an influential personal brand. In Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk, she conducted an experiment to see if the body can influence the mind. She had a group of people stand in a high power pose for 2 minutes – think the victory pose when a runner crosses a finish line or the Wonder Woman pose. What she found is their testosterone levels went up and their cortisol levels (a stress hormone) went down.
Amy encourages us to use power poses to speak to yourself before walking into a big challenge. By taking up as much space as you comfortably can in the moments preceding the challenge, you’re telling yourself that you’re powerful — that you’ve got this — which liberates you to bring your boldest, most authentic self to the challenge. You’re optimizing your brain to be 100 percent present when you walk in.