The 411 on 1-1’s – The first 4 meetings
For those small business leaders who are members of networking groups, you will understand the title. For those who aren’t yet, I encourage you to find a networking group as they can be a very good source of referrals and connections.
What is a 1-1? In networking terms, this is a chance to sit down with a fellow networker to learn more about them and their business so that you can refer business to each other. It is not, I repeat NOT, a sales presentation.
Some networking organizations, like BNI, have outlines you can follow for conducting a proper one-to-one meeting. These usually include structure for learning about a person’s goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills. You can find plenty of information about this on the internet.
BUT…there is a big difference between official doctrine and reality. The idea of a structured first 1-1 meeting is nice, but seldom happens. The reason is that people naturally want to work with someone they know, like, and trust (KLT). Without the proper amount of KLT in the business relationship, referrals will be hard to come by. So, experience has shown that the first 1-1 is usually more of a personal ‘get to know you’ session, and that’s fine.
Then how should the process work in reality?
Here is my suggestion for the first four 1-1 meetings:
- KLT – Take time to get to know each other and develop a basic level of trust. It’s hard to refer to people you don’t know, like, and trust, no matter how good they are at their job.
- In the second meeting schedule 45-60 minutes to cover the business topics for just one person. Skills, talents, interests, experience, prior jobs, etc. Then cover the really important questions; Who is a good referral for you? Who is your target market? Who is a bad referral for you? Who was your last customer and why did they buy from you? Treat this like a job interview. Again, on the internet there are plenty of great ideas for which questions to ask.
- In the third meeting change roles and grill the other person until you have a fine understanding of what they do and who they want to clients.
- In the fourth meeting it’s time to pull out the contact list and simply ask “Who do you want me to connect you with?” If they are looking for someone in a particular vertical market such as contractors, healthcare, legal, etc. then see who you know in those markets. Maybe they want certain departments such as marketing, human resources, or finance. Write them down. Call, email, or text the contact and ask if you can make an introduction. Get serious at this point and make some solid qualified referrals.
I take networking very seriously and work hard to find referrals every week for my ‘team’. Treat your networking group like your marketing team, give to them, and they will return the gift. Being part of a networking group is an investment in time and sometimes money. Work that investment. Treat it like any other piece of your total marketing plan. I highly recommend the book, ‘Givers Gain’ by Ivan Misener.
In the next article, I’ll cover what to do in the 5th meeting.
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If you want to know more about how to network more effectively, contact me.