I just returned from a Chamber of Commerce Business Summit at the gorgeous Greenbrier Resort. Steve Forbes was the keynote speaker and more than 500 executives gathered to hobnob, catch up, and be seen. While attending these types of exclusive events has always been a privilege reserved for top brass and rising stars, rampant belt-tightening has made businesses even more selective about who gets to go.
Since having a presence at big corporate events is a key indicator of your “young gun” status, below are a few guaranteed ways to make the cut.
Be Polished – No, it’s not always fair, but companies make a habit of sending their “face” men and women to represent them in public. This doesn’t mean you have to be the most attractive person in your organization, but you do need to look the part of a leader. If your idea of Casual Friday extends to Tuesday, Wednesday, and beyond, you may be overlooked for these important opportunities.
Be Professional – When sending representatives “in the field,” employers want to know they are going to embody the highest levels of etiquette and professional courtesy. Think about it: Are you mature and responsible enough to play in the space of your company’s very best clients and prospects?
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Be Personable – There’s no question business today involves copious networking receptions and dinner meetings. And if you’re known as the office introvert, you won’t be invited to many of them. Fortunately, being social is a learned skill. The key is simply to be approachable, to make other people feel comfortable and, when in doubt, ask open-ended questions like “Tell me about what you do.”
Be Productive – As a new professional, you probably aren’t a chief rainmaker yet. Therefore, your job at the meeting can be summed up in five words: Make your boss look good. For example, if your company has sponsored a breakout session, be willing to do the behind-the-scenes grunt work (signage, set-up, etc.) needed to be an indispensable resource in their eyes.
As you move up the ladder in your career, never underestimate the benefits of big corporate events. Not only are they significant opportunities to bond with colleagues and develop critical networking skills, but your attendance will be like a neon sign to others that your company is grooming you as someone to watch.
CAREEREALISM Expert, Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at www.professionalstudio365.com and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington.
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