“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas EdisonEvery time you have a business meeting — and this applies equally to informal lunch meetings and conferences in the boardroom — you have a chance to advance your business and moneymaking goals.Like it or not, every business meeting you have — and even every social meeting with a business colleague — is a forced performance. You are on stage. The person or people you are meeting with are the audience. What you do — how you act, what you say, your gestures, and the tone of voice you choose — is making an impression. It can be (a) good, (b) bad, or (c) indifferent. It might improve (though only slightly) your image, tarnish it, or reinforce an existing prejudice.

You can’t ignore this fact, so why not take advantage of it by committing yourself to making each meeting a positive one? Why not promise yourself that at the end of the meeting you will either have improved someone’s impression of you or secured for yourself and your company some business advantage?

Make sense? Then here’s what you should do:

1. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you want to get from the meeting. Is there a particular objective you can attain? If not, resolve to improve the relationship or simply improve your image as a smart and capable person.

2. Give yourself a reasonable goal. If you want to close a deal but realize it can’t be done at this particular meeting, settle for something else — such as an agreement on one part of the deal “if and when” it comes to fruition. If your goal is to improve the other person’s impression of you and you know he thinks you are a scoundrel, don’t press too hard. Be happy with showing him that you are perhaps not all that bad. You want your goal to be achievable, of course, because if it’s not you’re going to push too hard and damage a potentially good relationship.

3. To accomplish any objective — specific or general — you need to figure out how it is going to benefit the person (s) you will be meeting with. Formulate an “if … then” approach. If the person you are speaking to agrees to help you with your objective, then he will enjoy certain positive results. (If you can’t figure out beforehand what such positive results would be, your objective may be unreasonable.)

4. Once you have a fair and sensible “if … then” proposition, present it subtly. In most cases, you won’t want to put it as directly as “If you do this for me, I’ll do this for you” — because it will make the other person feel manipulated.

That said, make your point and keep making it until you’ve achieved your goal. If you make this a habit, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get done and how powerful you’ll feel.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

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