“Sorry we’re late,” the executive vice president of consumer marketing proclaimed as she and her team streamed into the massive conference room. “I imagine you heard the big news?” she added expectingly.
“Oh, no!” I thought. What news? My mind flew as I processed everything I ever knew about Zappos, the billion-dollar e-commerce company known for their quirky culture and stellar customer service. I was dumbfounded. What ‘big news’ could she be talking about? What crucial piece of information was missing from my dossier? How could this information, whatever it is, affect the meeting I was about to have?
“Big news?” I asked. She went on to tell me the surprising announcement that would make this meeting entirely irrelevant.
Before I reveal what crucial information I should have known before I walked into that Zappos conference room in 2010, let me tell you how I’ve used some amazing new technology to move seamlessly from business meeting to business meeting without being blindsided (and slightly embarrassed) by information I should have known.
What would Bond do?
A smart spy never walks into a meeting without the most relevant and up-to-date information on every attendee. James Bond is never blindsided by “breaking news.” MI6 has an intelligence team dedicated to arming Mr. Bond with comprehensive dossiers, complete psychographic profiles, even pictures and links to every surveillance target’s known associates.
Wouldn’t it be great if the modern business traveler had access to the same kind of depth and insight for every meeting they attend?
My intelligence team
Here’s the thing: in today’s digitally-driven world, you don’t need a staff of intelligence officers to have amazing insight into the business contacts you’re about to meet with. My smartphone has become my very own intelligence analyst, feeding me the most up-to-date insight seconds before I walk into a meeting.
Any qualified quartermaster would arm his field agents with these four amazingly intelligent apps.
1. Crystal: My psychological profiler
If you’ve ever watched the television show called “Criminal Minds” you know how useful a psychological profile of an unsub (UNknown SUBject) can be. One of the most amazing tools I’ve uncovered is called Crystal Knows. Essentially, Crystal scrapes the web for a person’s online information. Then, it analyzes that mountain of data and builds a comprehensive personality profile designed specifically to help you interact more effectively. Crystal is scarily accurate and amazingly powerful. Give it a try!
2. Charlie: My intelligence analyst
If I had access to Charlie before that meeting at Zappos in 2010, I never would have been blindsided. Charlie, like Crystal, combs through hundreds of online sources to create a one-page workup on ever single one of the meeting attendees on my calendar invites. Instead of having to retrieve actively the information, Charlie automatically sends me these comprehensive meeting dossiers before I meet with them. I’ve found myself sitting in many a lobby reading Charlie’s one-pagers. Connect your calendar and your LinkedIn account and you’re ready to rock your next meeting!
3. Newsle: My global intelligence officer
Every morning, Newsle sends me the latest news stories about my contacts. Instead of combing every online source, Newsle (which is owned by LinkedIn) scours trusted news media for stories about the people I’m connected with. Never miss an important story about a professional contact again. You can adjust the amount of news you see about each person you’re following and sort your newsfeed by date or importance. Newsle is a powerfully simple way to stay on top of what’s happening with the people you work with.
4. LinkedIn Connected: My daily briefing
I’d imagine you’ve already downloaded and installed the LinkedIn app on your phone, but not as many people have installed LinkedIn Connected (an entirely separate app.) The app generates the most important updates from your LinkedIn contacts every single day. Every morning, I spend three minutes congratulating my contacts on new jobs and celebrating my network’s work anniversaries to stay in touch. It’s smart and simple. Sync your calendar and contacts with LinkedIn Connect and you’ll get push notifications to your IOS app. There’s nothing better than receiving an extremely relevant push-notification ten minutes before your meeting.
The $888-million announcement
I flew across the country for that meeting with Zappos in 2010. Little did I know, but only hours before my meeting was to begin, Amazon purchased Zappos for $888 million. My hour-long marketing presentation (in which I’d positioned Zappos against Amazon) was entirely irrelevant, and I looked like an ass.
The meeting was over before it began and I decided I’d never again be blindsided by a lack of intelligence.
Travel like Bond. Put your digital intelligence team to work. You’ll be so glad you did.
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