Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Breakfast Meetings

As part of the graduate programme, a few of us were invited to a breakfast meeting this morning. Actually it wasn't a meeting, more of a breakfast discussion panel. The topic was "What does it take to build a successful career in this firm?", and we had one hour with a few members of senior management to discuss with.

First rule of breakfast meetings: Do not think that you will actually get to eat. I made the mistake that I was going to be fed properly. Sure, there was a lot of food on the table. In fact, I filled my plate with fruit and crossiants and pain au chocolat and sandwiches. Did I end up eating any of that? Perhaps two pieces of fruit and half a crossiant. For the entire hour, I was expected to jump in and contribute to the discussion at any time. Having food in your mouth when you were asked to give an opinion is *not* cool. Not to mention all the crunching noises really distracts the room. To supplement that first rule, take plenty of drinks back to the table. You'll end up drinking a lot more than eating, trust me.

Secondly, come up with meaningful questions PRIOR to the meeting. You want to seem intelligent, but not a know-it-all or worse, a smart ass. There is a very fine line between those, and you don't want to even get close to the line. Don't just come up with generic questions either, because those senior directors have seen it all - they were juniors once too.

Just one more thing.. network, network, network. This is an opportunity to find out what everybody else does in your company. Okay, so the guy sitting next to you is not a director and can't get you promoted - he may very well be the person who will bring you onboard when he gets a juicy offer from another firm. Besides, better to have one more friend than one more enemy, right?

No comments: