The bottom line about meetings — they’re networking opportunities that could lead to work. When it comes to networking and job opportunities, the person on the other side of the table needs to like you. You want them to be on your side. No one will side with someone full of resentment, anger, egotism, or judgement. While you may have experienced past injustices or frustrations in your career, it’s critical that you don’t take it out on the person in front of you.
In the latest installment of our “Reverse Engineering Success” series, Paul Foley explored how writers can mentally prepare, manage expectations, and keep their perspective heading into a meeting. Here are some of our favorites from this illuminating event:
Understand your place. Ego and insecurity are the two main things that will get you in trouble. Too much ego is a big deterrent in a room. You can come off as though you believe you’re better than the people in the meeting. And on the other hand, too much insecurity won’t allow them to put their trust in you. Be aware of the dynamics of the meeting and find a happy medium.
If someone asks you a question, they are genuinely interested! Don’t challenge the other person or get annoyed if they ask for clarification. View questions or confusion as an opportunity to hook them even further.
Be aware of your emotional triggers. Identify and acknowledge the things that set you off before you act on them. Maybe you don’t respond well to egotistical people or to people who seemingly aren’t listening to you. There’s so much that’s out of your hands in a meeting, you must learn to regain control of the things that make you lose your emotional footing.
Never negate. This applies in many situations. For example, when an exec or producer gives you a note, you should not become defensive or tell them what they’re getting wrong. Use the improv rule of “yes and!” Build on their ideas in the meeting. Establish a relationship built on collaboration and respect.
Be professional. Always. Perhaps you’re meeting with someone you met 20 years ago. You never want to have to ask yourself, “Was I good to this person or was I bad to this person?” If you’ve been professional, amenable, and an all-around decent person, you’re going to be much better off and can trust that you’ll be able to pick up in a good place with them 20 years later.