A few weeks ago, the Clarence High School’s Academy of Business and Finance — a new program where students focus their studies on functioning in the real life business world — held a “Mock Interview” program.
I was one of a handful of business professionals interviewing the students for an “internship” at Geico. They had to prepare their resume, a cover letter, dress to impress, research both Geico and me as the interviewer, and be interviewed as if it was the real deal.
It was great meeting these talented, smart, motivated, yet unpolished future business leaders. I smiled as they practiced some of the simplest things we do in business—things we all learned a long time ago— but perhaps have brushed aside over the years. It was a great reminder that the simplest things are usually the difference makers.
My 2015 resolution is to make sure I’m applying these notions in my own business practice. They are the common sense, common courtesy little things that would have granted one of these students the internship– and are usually the difference in sealing any deal.
Research. In this Google world…there’s no excuse for entering a meeting without having researched the company you’re meeting about. From websites, to social media or Google maps, you should be able to mention the interesting color of their front door, let alone any other facts you found intriguing about their business.
Ask Questions. I love talking about me. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Which is why I love when people ask me questions about me or my business during a meeting. My love of me is also why it’s important to remember to stop and make sure I also ask questions about the other person or business. The questions should be specific, and show that you did some research about their business.
Relax. People do business with people – not robots (maybe someday). It was pretty obvious when certain students were nervous and only focused on “business”. For the students that smiled, made a funny comment, or shared something a little personal that wouldn’t be found on a resume – they were naturally more likable. At the end of the day, we want to do business with people that we like.
Say “Thank You”. Every student sent a follow up email thanking me for my time. It probably took them less than three minutes to write, but it went a long way. Hand written notes are even more special and memorable. “Thank you”(s) to current clients, vendors, partners, etc. are also a good idea, because keeping a strong network is important – and everyone matters. When was the last time you randomly thanked your boss for…anything? Very few people will dislike you for sending a thank you note. Thank you notes help you stand out from others not only because it puts a smile on people’s faces, but also because (unfortunately) nobody else writes them anymore.
Sure, these are all simple and obvious, but despite our incredible presentations, advanced business training, and years of sales experience— Seeing 16 year olds in various stages of mastering the art of “being a good business person” demonstrated the importance of the most elementary parts of meeting with clients and partners.
Thank you to the Clarence High School Academy of Business and Finance for the great business “refresher”, and for hopefully prepping some future incredible Casilio Communications employees (I want first dibs)!