Meeting Etiquette for All Occasions

• Call the day before to confirm your meeting for the next day. This holds true for formal meetings and interviews as well as casual lunches. People get busy, schedules get backed up, something unexpected develops, day planners are accidentally left elsewhere, someone forgets. It's always a good idea to confirm.

• The proper dress for industry meetings is nice-casual—stylish, but not too corporate (unless you're interviewing for a big corporate position or at an office where you know the dress standard is more formal). And you want to be well groomed. That means clothes neatly pressed, dog hair and dandruff brushed off, pleasant-smelling breath and no severe hairdos, loud colors or intense fragrances. No tank tops, t-shirts, shorts or flip-flops. If you have several visible body piercings, keep the hardware to a bare minimum. If you have multiple tattoos, keep most of them covered. Women: don't overdo the makeup or wear exceptionally tight clothing, short skirts or spiked heels. Guys: (pressed) khaki slacks and a nice shirt are acceptable. If you have long hair, tie it back neatly. Yes, this is a business in which individuals are free to create their own style, but that's usually after you've already gotten your foot in the door and have proven yourself. You want to play it safe and be conservative on those early meetings, so don't walk in looking outrageous. You want to make a good impression, not take the chance of putting someone off before they get to know how terrific you are.

• Make sure you refer to the person who recommended you (if that is indeed the case).

• Turn off your cell phone and pager.

• Have a good idea of what you're going to say before you get there.

• Always shake hands and make direct eye contact.

• Don't forget to smile and breathe.

• Linda Buzzell, author of How To Make It In Hollywood (HarperPerennial), says that one of the two deadliest sins you can commit during a meeting is to be dull. To that end, make sure that sparkling personality of yours comes through loud and clear. If you're not interesting, you're going to lose the interviewer's attention quickly.

• Having a good sense of humor will take you far and is always appreciated.

• Linda Buzzell declares that the second deadliest sin is being desperate. To that end, don't ever let anyone know that if you don't get this particular job, you won't be able to pay your rent this month. Whether it's true or not, no one wants to know about your troubles. And placing someone on the spot like that is quite off-putting.

• Don't try too hard to impress. Be sincere. Be real.

• Don't lie about your background or embellish much. Prospective employers do check references.

• Don't bad-mouth previous employers.

• Plan on bringing a small notebook or pad of paper with you, so you can take notes during the meeting.

• Never interrupt while the other person is talking.

• In addition to once again thanking the person you're meeting for his time, be sure to thank his assistant for helping you set up the meeting.

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