Making your Face-to-Face Meetings Productive

Last week I was on a call with a member.   I asked him how things were going in his group.  He said, “Bart things are great. It is working. ”  Then, he paused.  When he paused I said, “You paused.  What is the but….?”

He spent the next few minutes complaining about 2 members in the group.  He had recently met with both of them for face-to-face meetings.  They hadn’t gone well.  I’ve heard this type of story many times over the years.

Both negative meetings had a similar theme.  The time wasn’t used efficiently.  Usually this occurs because, expectations on what they wanted to accomplish from the meeting weren’t discussed on the front end by either party.

Steps in setting up a good face-to-face meeting

1-      The Approach
“I’d like to meet with you for a face-to-face meeting.” Then tell them why you’d like to meet.  There are usually 4 reasons why people meet.   They are:
-You want to get to know each other better and learn about each other’s product or service.
-To go over specific referral opportunities you want to create for each other.
-You want to seek advice.
-You want to work on a joint marketing effort.

2-      Set a day and time and treat it on your calendar like a customer meeting.
Don’t schedule over it.  Value each other’s time.  If you treat it like a client/business development opportunity it much more likely to be a good use of your time.  If you don’t, it likely won’t.

3-      For the meeting.   Come prepared and be on time.
-Some small talk is good.  I often find that most of my face-to-face meetings that are an hour long start with 5-7 minutes of small talk.
-If my meeting is 30 minutes, then I find that we have to get straight to the point and small talk is usually left out.

4-      Follow-up.  A good face-to-face meeting usually creates a “to-do” list for each other.  However, I often try to accomplish as much of my list that is reasonable in the meeting.

I want to leave you with a story about a great face-to-face meeting I had last year.  The purpose of the meeting was to create some specific referral opportunities for the person I was meeting with.

Bill came to the meeting with a list of 20+ people that I was connected to on LinkedIn.  We talked about each person on the list to see if they might be a good fit.  Through this conversation we scrubbed the list down to 3-4 targets.  I reached out to one of the targets via text in the meeting and he agreed to a meeting with Bill.

The other 3 were easy.  I handed Bill my laptop and asked him to write me out a few sentences that I could use to probe the other targets to see if they’d be open to meeting him.  He wrote it for me.  I cut/pasted it and changed a few words to personalize each one.  I sent the emails while we were together.

Bill made it easy for me to help him and came prepared.  This whole meeting took less than 45 minutes.  I left happy that I was help to help someone, but also glad that it didn’t add to my to do list.  Bill got 2 appointments.  It was a win for both of us!

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