Your Mouth is Where the Money Is

There was a time when the answer to the question “What do you do?” was easy to answer: “I work on an assembly line.”  “I install windows.”  “I make boots.” You did something tangible, and you got paid for it.
There was a connection between the quantity you produced and the amount of money you earned. Economists refer to it as a widget economy, where a “widget” is a stand-in for some kind of commodity.
Fast-forward to the information age, and an increasing number of people are paid for their ability to communicate data and knowledge. The communicate piece is key, and where an employee’s currency truly lies.  widget-image
Today’s businesses need – and value – people who know when to speak in meetings, how to share ideas, how to persuade, and how to keep things on topic.  When an employee doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the employer isn’t getting its money’s worth.
I recognize that for the introverts among us, sharing expertise in meetings is not an easy task. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some strategies that I have developed with my clients:
  • Prior to the meeting, ask the organizer how you can best contribute and what ideas you might be able to support with your knowledge.
  •  Within the first two to five minutes of the meeting, challenge yourself to say something complimentary about the agenda: “Thank you for remembering that we need to talk about membership at this meeting.”
  • Within the first 30 minutes, vocalize your support of an idea. “I can see how that policy change would be helpful…”
  • At the end of the meeting, summarize what was agreed upon and the next steps (do this every hour in a longer meeting).
  • After the meeting, go back to the meeting organizer and ask how you can support the decisions that were made.
Still intimidated?  Then just remember this:  Your knowledge is your widget. And no one is going to invest in it if you don’t show it off!
What are some of the ways you like to contribute in a meeting?

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