As an administrative or executive assistant, you’re going to be responsible at some point or another for making sure your boss is prepared with the correct material and information for his/her next meeting. This is not always an easy task, but it is necessary nonetheless. Whether you’re preparing your boss for a sales meeting (and really, all meetings are sales meetings, when you think about it) with an outside client, or a meeting in which he/she is the client, it is your duty as a gatekeeper to ensure your boss is equipped and informed with the latest and most complete information.
Aside from ensuring he/she has the appropriate material for the meeting, one of the many overlooked, yet valuable steps in preparing your boss for a meeting is ensuring he/she knows the important details of the people he/she is meeting with.
Imagine you are going on a job interview. The goal of the meeting would be to get the job. One way you could truly stand out would be to know details about the person interviewing you, what led them to their current role, and perhaps some background information on them so you could find common ground. This information is also helpful because it allows you to understand how to “sell” yourself to them. When your boss has a meeting with anyone, treat it as though they are selling themselves—as though the goal of meeting is to get hired.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for gathering professional information about someone, specifically because anyone who has a LinkedIn profile generally has one that is full of the information he/she wants to highlight (read: wants others to know about them.) Depending on the individual, their industry, and their role within the corporate ladder, Twitter is a good resource for research because it gives insight as to what the individual cares about, what they are interested in, and what their personality is like, simply by examining what they tweet, retweet, and hashtag, as well as the overall tone of their 140 character long messages.
Google itself is also a great tool for acquiring information about individuals. Simply type their name into Google search, and change your search type from web to news. Google will pull news articles (if any) and the date they were published for the individual you’ve searched for. This method will yield the most recent information about the person—keep in mind that not all of the press you find will be positive, so proceed with caution.
For administrative assistants who use Google Calendar to keep track of their boss’s schedules, there’s an app called Charlie; Charlie is a virtual personal assistant that pulls information from your Google Calendar, including who you are scheduled to meet with. From there, the app will scour the internet for information about the person, and, before your meeting, will send you a detailed report of its findings, so you don’t have to do the legwork—because, you know, admins are busy enough as it is! In fact, the app claims to save users up over 30 minutes and 57 searches pre-meeting. https://charlieapp.com/