The Lobby Waiting Technique

As you arrive at the company, take note of the surroundings. If this is the corporate headquarters, take note of the grounds and buildings. These are often major sources of pride for image-conscious companies.

When you arrive in the lobby, you should step up to the receptionist, state your name (present one of your networking business cards if you have them), who you are there to see, and the time of the appointment. Note that you should say you have an "appointment," or "meeting" scheduled, not "an interview."

The receptionist will phone your contact and will inform you of your status. "Jane will be with you in just a few minutes. Feel free to take a seat." Do not sit down. Instead, walk around the lobby, looking first at the walls for plaques and awards. Read them all. And if there is a product display, study it closely. Next, look for employee newsletters or other internal documents which may be displayed by the waiting room table. Finally, take note of the industry trade magazines that are being displayed.

This information will give you a very practical feel for the corporate culture, as well as an excellent starting point for rapport-building small talk throughout the day.