We have repeatedly discussed the fact that we need to meet other business people one-on-one for a chat over coffee, or whatever. When we meet someone for a few minutes at any event, networking or otherwise, we do not have time to get to know them, decide if we like them, or decide if we trust them. We must understand that we will be so much more successful if we can move a new acquaintance through these 3 levels of the relationship.
The first step in this process is a one-on-one meeting where we get to know someone. One of the most important actions that we can take is to ask them about their business. How can we refer someone to the appropriate prospects if we do not know what their business is? Business referrals are the lifeblood of successful businesses and build true networking relationships.
There are numerous coffee meetings taking place each and every day that do not result in networking partnerships. Only one participant in the meeting may actually ask any questions about the other party. This is rude and impolite when it happens, and results in one party feeling used and reluctant to ever pass referrals to the other party. If we don’t care to learn anything about the other person, why do we agree to the meeting?
We can ask questions such as: what is the nature of your business, how long have you been in business, why did you start or join this business, are you a long time resident of the area, where are you from, what does your spouse/partner do, what do you do for fun, what type of networking events do you attend, and what is the basis for your success. In other words, get to know the other person. To do so, we must ask questions.
If the meeting is interrupted before we can discover the needed details about the other person, schedule another meeting for the future for the purpose of exchanging information. We must never leave a meeting with the other person feeling like we do not care about what they do. After all, we met originally at a networking meeting where we intended to meet new prospects. If we do not ask any questions, how do we know if they are a prospect for anyone, including ourselves?
Entrepreneurs who start a business are normally very proud of that fact and love to discuss their business, how it started, how it is doing, and what their journey has been with everyone they meet. All we have to do is ask questions and listen. If we don’t ask and listen, how do we know anything about them, who they should know, or even if we might need what they have? Asking for details will spread some gratitude to everyone. Don’t attempt to make them a customer; find out what they need, and help them get it, even if we don’t have it.