Promoting Your Brand Through Authentic Business Meetings

How I did it by mistake, and it worked!

I had a meeting last week with a potential client. I met her at Chickfila, my favorite fast food joint, for breakfast. I wore jeans, a t-shirt and my favorite NIKE Comfort flip-flops with the memory foam inside.  During our conversation, about six of my unflattering personality traits came up.  (I don’t wake up til 10am, I forget a lot, My brain sometimes shuts down mid-thought, etc.)  I answered many of her questions with broad, loose statements like “Whatever works” or “This just feels better” (accentuated with a nice shoulder shrug). The conversation got off track about fifty times, going from the average of one hour to about two and a half.  At the end of this wildly inappropriate meeting, she hired me.

As I headed home, I realized that I was completely at ease in that meeting.  I forgot to be a different version of myself; the real Raven showed up and won the business. In this meeting, I promoted my personal brand by being 100% authentic, and it felt great! Here’s how you can try it out in your next business meeting:

Meeting LocationBusiness Meetings with no expense account

When many people think of meeting with a prospective client, they feel that they have to pick a place that shows their “success”. You may try the hot, new restaurant that everyone is talking about, or some fancy-schmancy lunch spot where you can prove that your finances are stable enough to pick up the tab. How do you feel when you are there? Are you distracted by worrying that they’ll order the $40 Steak Tartar and you’ll be stuck with a side salad? Then don’t go there! Pick a location where you can be completely relaxed and focused on your meeting.  I chose Chickfila, because that’s where I was going to be anyway. They have free wi-fi, the employees are nice and I know I can sit there for hours and do my work. Sometimes they even toss me a free Spicy Chicken biscuit at the end of the lunch hour! Because I was there an hour before my client arrived, I was already in “me” mode and never thought to put on my “game face”.

Business Meeting Attire

No-brainer, right? A dark business suit with a white shirt/blouse. Not too much jewelry or perfume, moderate makeup. WRONG. I hate to be a broken record, but wear what makes you comfortable. If you like business suits and high heels or you’re a man who lives at Jos.A.Banks, then go for it. Wear that. But if that suit jacket makes you sweat, or those heels give you blisters, TAKE IT OFF. You can’t think straight with your body in fight or flight mode. Show your prospect that you’re so confident in your business and the services you offer, that you don’t need to hide behind a tie. If it’s true to you and your brand, then wear your sneakers and tees. If they can’t see past your wardrobe to your skills or see into your wardrobe to your authentic brand, they aren’t the right client for you.

What to Discuss

This one I love. Here is where you really get to shine. One of the most successful saleswomen I know typically prepares for her meetings on the way to the meetings; in the car or on the plane putting a plan together to ask the client for hundreds of thousands of dollars. She’s a nut and it drives me crazy. But, she wins the business about 98% of the time. Why? She knows her business. You don’t have to spend hours preparing if you know your business and your prospect’s needs inside and out. Walk in with confidence, answer questions honestly and tell them why doing business with you is the best way to go. When you do that, the REAL you will show up, not the one that you’ve practiced being in front of the mirror.

So there it is,  if you want to promote your brand, make sure it’s authentic to you, then carry that authenticity with you to every business meeting. If the well-rehearsed, highly polished, but not really real “you” shows up, your prospect will see through it and will never become a client. You’ll wear yourself out trying to be something you’re not and begin to resent your business. Worst of all, you’ll be living a lie, and no one wants to do business with a liar.

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