We meet new people every day, in every phase of our life. Most of us make immediate assessments about everyone we meet and believe we know whether someone is worth meeting with or not. In my opinion, having met thousands of people myself over the past 30 years of business, we never know where the best introductions will come from. We believe that the package can tell us everything about a person, but what if that isn’t the truth? Some of the best introductions have come from the most interesting and unexpected places.
With this in mind might it make sense to give everyone a chance? Why don’t we meet with anyone who we can? Most times it’s because we don’t have enough time, we’re too busy. Too busy doing what? What is more important that building our network? We need a deep network for so many reasons and you never know who know whom!
When I look back on the past 30 years and the meetings that I took that lead to nothing, one’s that had so much promise. Then, I would meet with someone I normally wouldn’t give the time of day and they make the most amazing introductions. Everyone is put in our path for a reason and we need to be open to every possibility. I believe that one of the main challenges we face is that we don’t know what to do during an initial conversation with someone, we don’t have an objective and we don’t know how to tell our story succinctly. With this in mind we spend way too much time talking and not enough listening.
If we can spend 60 minutes with someone and let them talk for at least 40 minutes, that’s good. Yet, if we are able to get our message across clearly in the 20 minutes we are talking or asking questions, that is a great introductory meeting. We act as the listener, making the other person feel important. In our short window of time we need to be able to clearly articulate the type of person we are looking to meet and why. We are easily able to describe our value proposition to that person and display our expertise. I’ve always believed that we can best demonstrate our expertise by asking great questions. This process accomplishes our two desired outcomes, it demonstrates our knowledge and allows the person we are talking with to do most of the talking.
We are dealing with two issues here; whom to meet with and how to get our message across clearly while letting the other person talk. The first issue, whom to meet with, is not easy to decide. I know that I’ve flown across the country to meet with someone I thought would be a great strategic partner, only to realize years later that my expectations were not met. There are other times when we take a meeting with someone who we never thought would provide any value and they make a key introduction that leads to great things. In the end, we want to be judicial with our time and make every minute count, but that might not produce the best results. We are so consumed by our need to be productive with our time that we prejudge who will provide the best opportunities, that is why I believe we should meet with everyone at least once.