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Relationship Management Relationship Intelligence

How to Show Up Smarter To Every Meeting

By Anne Gherini

Meetings are fundamentally flawed. 71% of senior managers say meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Given that executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours in meetings, the time wasted is incredible. And what’s especially concerning is that meeting frequency is on the rise. Whereas executives spend 23 hours a week in meetings today, they spent fewer than 10 hours in meetings in the 1960s.

It’s not surprising that executives are chomping at the bit to make meetings more effective. Fortunately, Affinity can come to the rescue in helping you show up smarter to every meeting and thus increase meeting efficiency. It all boils down to relationship intelligence.

Arrive prepared

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has gone to great lengths to perfect the art of meetings. One of the tactics he's embraced is referred to as the "silent start". During the opening minutes of select meetings, attendees sit in silence and read printed memos. During this silent time—which may span up to 30 minutes—participants review the memos and make any relevant notes to prepare for the ensuing meetings. The tactic ensures that attendees are well versed in the discussion items and are able to make the most of each meeting.

When meeting are external—involving a customer, portfolio company, investor, strategic partner—effective preparation tends to center less on knowledge of specific policies, strategies, or proposals, although these can be central. In the context of external meetings, effective preparation entails a robust understanding of the participants—the relationships—of the meeting participants.

To this end, the rewards associated with Bezos’ silent start can be immediately achieved by leveraging Affinity. Because Affinity auto-tracks all your communication, it arms you with a detailed understanding of the complete history and context of relationships. It eliminates guessing. When meeting with an external entity, you’ll always know which members of your organization have pre-existing relationships with the entity, as well as the strength of these relationships.

Leverage the power of storytelling

In addition to ensuring you arrive at meetings prepared in terms of relationship history and context, Affinity empowers you to arm yourself with powerful stories. Using Affinity, you can ensure that you arrive at meetings with a more robust understanding of the relationships in the room than anyone else. By arming yourself with stories involving meeting relationships, you’ll be able to facilitate more engaging conversations. Perhaps Affinity reveals that one of the partners at your firm worked with a meeting participant at a previous organization. Perhaps a colleague met a meeting participant at a professional event last year and discussed co-investing in a portfolio company. These types of stories are powerful.

Why is storytelling so powerful? Research has shown that storytelling cause oxytocin synthesis. Higher oxytocin levels in the brain increase the likelihood that audience members will engage in cooperative behaviors. Because stories are more effective than facts at sustaining attention, they engage our emotions and make us feel a stronger sense of connection. Storytelling has also been shown to aid in memory recall, making us more likely to remember meetings and the participants involved.

Extract full benefit

Perhaps the greatest power of Affinity is its ability to help you make the most of meetings. Using Affinity, you can arrive at meetings with a detailed understanding of attendees’ networks. Research has shown that the most effective opportunities transpire via weak or indirect higher-order ties rather than our first-degree connections.

When you do a deep dive in Affinity before meeting with key contacts, you can pinpoint how you can leverage meeting attendees’ networks to gain benefits. If you, for example, have your sights set on meeting with a specific individual, you can leverage Affinity to identify how attendees can most effectively connect you with that individual. You can arrive at meetings prepared to ask for relevant introductions and, in turn, supercharge the effectiveness of meetings.

We can’t afford to waste valuable time in meetings. Time is our most valuable asset. Affinity can be your superpower in ensuring that you not only make the most of meetings, but also gain a reputation for being the smartest person in the room.
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Relationship Management Relationship Intelligence