1-on-1 networking can be, dare I say it, quite frustrating!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve encountered so-called business professionals who simply didn’t get it.
They simply didn’t get the fact that business is all about people.
And they definitely didn’t get the fact that people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
They were also unwilling to invest the time and effort needed to develop strong, mutually beneficial, and enduring relationships.
Yet they wonder why this marketing strategy called networking doesn’t seem to be working for them.
This type of business professional is what I call a “surface networker,” and they are the vast majority out there just cluttering up the networking avenues.
The good thing about it is the vast opportunity it presents to those who really do know how to play the networking game— ‘players’ so to speak—they tend to stand out like a beacon of light.
So you’re out there networking your tail off at a local networking event, and you’ve met what you believe to be a ‘player.’ They’re not only magnetic and charismatic, but they seem to emanate this vibe that makes them irresistible. So you reach out to them after the networking event and schedule a 1-on-1 networking meetup—a ‘get-to-know-you-better’ session, so to speak.
You want to impress this person. You want to go deep. You want to explore how you may be able to help each other going forward. So how can you make sure you give yourself the best chance of accomplishing that? Well, here are 11 tips that can help you do exactly that.
① Come Prepared To Play
For starters, Google them. Check out their website. Read their current newsletter. Do they have any current press releases? If so, read them. In other words, find out a little something about them and their industry before the meeting; this is a sure sign of diligence and respect.
② Confirm the 1-on-1 Networking Appointment at least 24 hours in Advance
Face it; we’re not perfect. And as busy professionals, we can sometimes fall victim to our busyness. That said, a little courtesy reminder can go a long way.
③ Dress for Success
One rule here; Dress as best you can without making the person you’re meeting with feel uncomfortable.
④ Make It Easy For Them to Find You
If needed, provide directions to the meeting location—exchange cell phone numbers. And just in case they may not remember what you look like—and yes, don’t flatter yourself, this is a possibility—wear something distinctive and let them know about it (e.g., I’ll be wearing a green tie).
⑤ Be Respectful of Their Time
Arrive early and wrap it up on time. If for some reason you’re going to be late, give them a quick courtesy call. If the conversation is going so well that it’s about to go into overtime, make them aware of the time and either continue with the meeting (if it’s acceptable to both parties of course) or, break out your calendar and set a follow-up meeting to pick up where you left off.
⑥ Shut-off Your Cell Phone
Unless in a dire emergency, nothing screams disrespect more than your cell phone ringing in the middle of a conversation—and you answer it!
You say to the person you’re meeting with: “Hold that thought for a second; I’ve got to get this.” Translation to the person you’re meeting with—you’re not important; this call is.
⑦ Be Clear About Your Intentions
Why do you want to meet with them? Don’t mislead them with false intentions. Is this just a meeting to get to know one another better? Or is this a sales meeting where you’ll be introducing your products and services? They’re likely to be upset if they’re expecting a good conversation, and it ends up being one long sales pitch.
⑧ Maintain Proper Eye Contact
Don’t look over their shoulder as if you’re waiting for someone better to enter the room. And please don’t check them out as if you were looking for a cheap thrill. This is 1-on-1 networking for business. You’re not hanging out at some singles club. Therefore, please give them the respect they deserve.
⑨ Listen Twice, Speak Once
Translation—let them do most of the talking and really tune in to what they are saying. Lending an undivided ear is one of the most prominent signs of respect.
⑩ Take Notes
Before proceeding with this one, be sure to ask for permission. For example, you might say: “You’re sharing some significant stuff here. Would you mind if I took a few notes to ensure I don’t forget any of it?” This oozes respect and lets the other person know that you believe what they’re saying is important—a major compliment.
⑪ Identify Next Steps
The meeting’s almost over. What now? Where do you go from here? Does it make sense to take this relationship to the next level? How so? Is this a potential networking power partner?
Whatever the outcome of the meeting, communicate whatever next steps you feel makes sense—even if it’s nothing.
1-on-1 Networking Wrap Up
Remember, it’s all about respect—it’s all about courtesy—it’s all about making them feel important—it’s all about going deep enough to develop a strong rapport.
Because people do business with people they know, like, and trust. And to create that possibility, you’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes to earn it.