December 4, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Chat With a Stranger

This past week something great happened to me.  I met a complete stranger and had a wonderful chat over coffee.  What did it cost me?  All I had to do was reach out to someone on an online network, LinkedIn, request a meeting, set a time and date, and show up to meet.  What did I gain?  We formed a new networking relationship and will see where it leads.

Many of us belong to online networks; some of us belong to several; some belong to so many that we cannot keep up with them all.  Maybe what we should do is concentrate on a few, or even one, and determine if it will bring us better results than we have experienced in the past.  What would happen if you zeroed in on one network and reached out to various people that you find there?

Would you find a new networking partner or a referral source?  Would you gain a new customer or learn something new and helpful?  Maybe all these things would happen, maybe some, or maybe none.  You do not know until you try, and you have nothing to lose except some time and effort on your part.  After all, why did you join online networks in the first place?

Just go onto your network and look into any groups that you have joined, or check the ones that you should join.  LinkedIn has many groups for all business industries that allow you to join and connect with other members.  Then send messages to other group members and ask each of them to schedule a physical meeting over coffee with you to have a conversation about networking, referrals, or whatever the two of you want to discuss.  You are just trying to get to know each other, not trying to sell something to each other.

It may take one of you actually calling the other on the phone and comparing schedules (making appointments through email messages is difficult, takes too long, and is not personal at all).  It may require compromise as to location and time, and it will require you to move out of your comfort zone.  You are trying to meet someone that you have not met physically previously.  Just think outside the box and get creative.  Make it fun for both of you.

When you meet, follow the guidelines that we have discussed before; just get to know each other.  Find out about each other’s background, where you are from, how you got into your businesses, what the businesses are about, and what each of you need in business and/or personally.  Do not try to sell the other person anything.  If they ask about your business, explain it to them and tell them what you have to offer to others.

People do business with, and refer others to, the people that they know, like, and trust.  You want this meeting to result in getting to know each other, getting to like each other, and starting to reach a level of trust with each other.  The longest journey starts with a single step.  Take that step by reaching out and contacting someone to meet with you.  Then see if you can begin to build a networking relationship, a partnership.  Will it always work?  No, but you never know unless you try.

Have you ever tried this method of building relationships, and has it worked successfully?  Please let me know by leaving your comments, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691.  I want to hear your stories, either successful or not, and of course, I want to connect with anyone who wants to make the effort to chat and learn.


  1. This strategy has been very useful for me as well. I really like to meet people in person - it makes the relationship so much more productive and meaningful.

  2. Jim...I agree....I have gotten in touch with my online contacts and have had some wonderful interchanges in person.

    This is a great way to use social media networking.