Sunday, August 26, 2012

Template One-on-One Meeting Agenda

Setting the agenda for a one-on-one meeting begins when we make the appointment. The purpose can be as simple as “to get to know more about each other.” The person who initiated the meeting should restate this purpose at the outset of the meeting to set a direction and destination. This clarity makes it easy for the initiator to begin the learning process by asking some questions.

One-on-one networking meetings are generally 30-60 minutes in length. The concept of these meetings is to learn about each other's background, skills, competence, and interests. Networkers who succeed at one-on-one meetings have a real passion to hear other people's stories. Each of the suggested questions below has many potential follow-up questions. Where we go really depends on how they respond. Good listening skills are essential to getting the most out of these exchanges. As we prepare our agenda for any specific one-on-one meeting there are three general areas of discussion that should be included.

  • Current World - This is where we develop a significant understanding of what this person is doing today. Asking the right questions will allow you to figure out how to make the best connections for them and to them.
    • What do they do?
    • What is their role and responsibility?
    • What are the strengths of their product or service?
    • Who do they serve (demographics)?
    • Besides existing customers, where do their best leads come from?
    • What are their biggest priorities?
    • How are they rewarded?
  • Background - These questions give us a better view of the person and their experiences. Your goal here is to get a real sense of the depth and breadth of this individual’s experience. Connections and our desire to facilitate them are often driven by our regard for the person.
    • How did they get here?
    • What has been their career path?
    • Where are they from?
    • What types of projects have they worked on?
    • What did they used to do and where?
    • What do they do when they're not working?
    • What are their hobbies and passions?
    • Where do they live?
    • Where did they grow up? If different from home, what brought them here?
  • Goals - Knowing where someone is going with build your opportunity to help them make valuable connections.
    • Is there a specific goal that you have for this year?
    • What do imagine will happen when you are able to reach that goal?
    • Have you ever thought about starting a (another) business? If so, what would it be?
    • Are there additional opportunities here for you at XYZ Company?
    • Are there some goals that you’d personally like to accomplish in the next 5-years or so?

Of course, each meeting should have a different set of questions that are aimed to help you really get to know the person across from you. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to make valuable connections thereby establishing strong goodwill with this person and in your community.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The One-On-One Meeting Misstep

Many years ago in a moment of pure frustration I am sure, a boss of mine said, “Bill you know what you know, if you stop to listen you’ll learn what other people know.”

The purpose of getting together one-on-one is to learn what other people know. You need to uncover their background, skills and competencies. You need to learn about them and the only way that you can do that is to be passionately interested in hearing their story.

This concept challenges how most networkers handle one-on-one meetings. They ask for a meeting and then proceed to either do a sales pitch or dominate the conversation with their stories. At the end of the meeting, they may even try to convince their new friend to send them leads. How would it work if someone did that to you?

Networking value and exchange is built by making matches. Connecting people who would benefit from knowing each other is how you earn goodwill. You can only make good matches when you have great intimacy with key people in your community. You need to have both knowledge about the capabilities of someone and trust in them to make a good introduction.

Accept for a moment the best referrals that you’ll ever get will come from your current or past clients. Then your one-on-one meetings need to be focused on building a bullpen of resources that can solve the problems most likely to be experienced by your key clients. The better your ability to solve the problems experienced by your clients the more likely they will be to advocate you...It is that simple.

Next week we’ll explore one-on-one meeting agendas...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Where Should You Meet?

When you survey most networkers they will tell you that the best place to conduct one-on-one meetings is at a neutral location such as your favorite coffee shop or at a new and interesting restaurant.

To understand where to meet you must first understand why you would want to get together with someone one-on-one. The networking purpose of getting together one-on-one is to learn about the other person. So, would getting together at a neutral location be the best place to meet if your goal is to learn as much as is possible about the other person?

When possible, meeting at the other person’s place of business will allow you to learn the most about them. You’ll meet their co-workers and associates. You’ll see examples of their work. You’ll see their awards, diplomas, and certification. You’ll see their facility. More than anything you’ll see many references to the quality and credibility of their work that are not present at Starbucks.

Meeting at their place of business will give you more credible information in 60-minutes than you’ll get in 6 meetings anywhere else. The non-verbal verification and validation will allow you to gain intimate knowledge that will give you great benefit later.

One of the best parts of meeting at your counterpart’s office first is that you have an automatic reason for a second that they can visit you at your place of business.

It is recognized that there are many valuable people to get to know who do not have formal office space or maybe they work out of their home where they don’t feel comfortable having visitors. That’s okay. Simply have them visit you at your office. At least you’ll be at the home court for one of you where greater intimacy will always be built.

Should neither person have an office, certainly a neutral site will work. In this case you’re best to choose a location that is reasonably quiet. Make sure that you are mentally prepared to learn as much as you can about them. Your questioning and listening skills will need to be top notch!

Join us again next week when we’ll discuss why the purpose of one-on-one meeting is to learn as much as you can about the other person.

Monday, August 6, 2012

One-On-One Meetings: With Whom?

Getting together with key individuals one-on-one is the best way to create the level of intimacy needed to build advocacy. Without significant intimacy and trust most of us are very reluctant to advocate others. By getting together one-on-one we begin to invest in each other in a way that allows the potential of valuable exchange.

So, who should you get together with?
  • Centers of Influence - People who can help you by virtue of whom or what they know. Generally only 5-10% of any audience are centers of influence for you. These are very specific people who are connected to knowledge and relationships that are high leverage for you.
  • Resources - People who deliver valuable products and services that your customers may need. Having a bullpen of exceptional and diverse resources will help you become a preferred provider to your customers.
  • Connected People - People who seem to know “everybody.” These mavens have very broad connections that will add significant reach to your network. When you don’t know where else to go...your connected people will.
Join us again next week when we’ll discuss where to meet one-on-one...