Seven Steps to a Successful General Information Meeting

You've got your first meeting lined up (for example's sake, let's say it's with a female studio executive). Now what?

#1. Walk in, shake hands, make eye contact and thank her for taking the time to meet with you. #2. Always acknowledge the person you're meeting. You'll have done your homework, so you'll know what you're going to say in advance. It could be a compliment on her past accomplishments, on the company's latest film, etc. If you hadn't been able to find any background information on her or the company, admire her office view or decor. #3. Since this is a meeting you've asked for, take the lead by saying, "Let me tell you a little about myself." Then, launch into your pitch.

#4. Next, say something like this: "Let me tell you why I'm here ... these are the things I'd like to learn more about, and I thought (or so-and-so suggested) you'd be a good person to talk to." It's now time for your (intelligent and well-informed) questions. Since you're there for such a short period of time, limit the questions to a scant few and keep them concise. Also, don't forget to engage her in talking about herself. People generally like talking about their own experiences and will be flattered that you're interested enough to ask. #5. Sit back and listen.

#6. Thank her again for her time. Then ask if she might have any specific advice she could share with you or suggestions of other people you should meet.

#7. Ask if you may please stay in touch. This could be via an occasional e-mail or checking in with her assistant from time to time. Remember, you want to make a connection, and it won't happen if you don't (or aren't invited to) stay in touch. At the same time, you don't want to leave her with the impression that you'll become a stalker. So ask the question, and then let her take it from there as to what form of contact she'd be most comfortable with.

If the meeting is going to last longer than the fifteen or twenty minutes you asked for, you'll know; because she'll possibly ask you some questions and/or offer more advice, suggestions or leads.

Since you're reading this book and not attending one of my classes at the moment, I can't threaten you with a lesser grade if you don't start going on general information meetings, but my guess is that your career will take a lot longer to materialize if you don't.

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