How to get the most from your networking 121s and coffee chats.
The phrase “would you like a coffee?” is often heard at networking meetings and business shows. Whilst hot beverages are almost certainly involved, having the opportunity to chat with someone on a one to one (121) basis can be extremely valuable. This time together, away from the office and other distractions, can lead to profitable discussions and long-lasting partnerships.
Having 121 meetings can quickly progress your business and expand your client portfolio. 121s can be an opportunity to discuss new ideas, brainstorm possibilities and make new friends. You might find opportunities to help someone else, perhaps you know someone they would benefit from meeting as well.
To make the most of your 121 meetings, I recommend the following tips:
Do – Make it easy for someone to meet you. If you work from home or a busy office, meeting at a coffee shop can be a great venue. Remember to offer to pay for the coffee. If they want to pay for theirs, or yours, or both, that’s fine, but it’s good practice to offer to pay first. Some coffee shops have unlimited drink top-ups and many have quiet corners and free WIFI you can use.
Do – Find out about them. We succeed in business relationships through our personal relationships, finding common ground, building rapport, taking an interest in the other person. Do they have a family? What are their hobbies? Finding something non-work related to talk about can be relaxing when meeting new people. When you feel at ease with someone it makes it easier to discuss business matters later in the conversation.
Do – Confirm the venue, date and time either in an email or text message. This makes it simple for you and the person you’re meeting to check the details. It’s also worth having their mobile and office number stored on your phone in case there are any delays or change of plans.
Do – Value their time. If they say they must leave at 11am, make sure your meeting is wrapped up by then. Make sure you’ve asked everything you need to ask and have agreed a follow-up date and time.
Do – Follow up from the meeting. Whether it’s to arrange a second meeting, or to deliver on a product or service you have discussed. Without the follow-up there can be no sale or future business. The follow-up can be in person, by email or social media message, by text, telephone or posting a letter.
The key point is to make contact with the person from your meeting and to make sure you’ve done everything possible for them to do business with you.
If you’re too busy to follow up enquiries, or if you prefer to be behind the scenes, maybe your follow-ups can be outsourced, and I would be happy to help with this for you.
Whether it’s simply sending out a sales pack following a telephone enquiry, or arranging an in-person meeting for you, these things don’t happen by themselves.
If you don’t have the time or the patience to do it yourself, simply outsource it and the work will be done while you concentrate on the things you enjoy. This is a service I currently offer and have 3 clients who are thrilled by the number of coffee chats I’m booking in for them.
For more information on networking 121s and outsourcing, let’s arrange to have a coffee chat!