Think of every networking meeting as a sales meeting. You’ll never catch a good salesperson just ‘winging it’ – they plan every meeting. They find out what they can about who they are meeting (this is where LinkedIn comes in handy). They plan the outcome and how to reach it. They respect that someone has granted them time and use it effectively as possible.
You are competing against budget requirements, project deadlines, and anything else that is filling your networking contact’s day. Good advance planning will help cut through all of this and help you make the most of each meeting.
Before each networking meeting, plan the following items:
· Purpose of meeting – what do you want the person to do for you (provide some contacts, connect you into a specific firm, etc.)
· Connections with this contact (your colleagues, same school, etc.)
· How do you want to position yourself to this contact (e.g. role in large company, role in start-up, etc.)
· Contacts you can provide
· Contacts this person can provide to you
I wrote down these items and brought them with me to the meeting – nothing too fancy, just a few items for each item.
To help you understand more about the company the person you are meeting does, see “The question that ends a meeting quickly”.