If you’ve spent any time going to in-person networking meetings, you’ve likely heard the term “one to one.” It’s common for networking groups to encourage their members to meet with each other outside of the group meeting so you can get to know each other on a more personal basis.
While for some this may seem like second nature, many people find it to be awkward and uncomfortable or simply not a good use of their time. If you’re nodding your head, this article is for you! Stick with me and you’ll feel confident and comfortable next time you’re faced with scheduling the dreaded one-to-one.
1. Understand What a 1:1 Is – And What It Isn’t
The purpose of a 1:1 meeting is to get to know each other – both on a personal and a business level. It’s not meant to be a sales pitch to a captive audience.
When meeting with another business, your primary purpose should be to make a connection, learn some things about their business that aren’t on their website or in their marketing materials, and learn a little bit about some challenges you could potentially help them with.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with one-to-one meetings, you may feel like leaving without a sale is a waste of time – but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Make it a point to build authentic relationships and ask good questions, and you’ll create far more opportunities than you will if you go in for a sale right away.
2. Decide Who You Want to Meet With
If you’re in a networking group, organization, or club, simply going through the roster is a great way to start. You may begin with people who you think you could be a good business connection, but don’t stop there. Have an open mind and try to meet with everyone at least once. You may be surprised by what you’ll learn.
You could also take the approach of listening carefully to each person’s presentations during your group meeting and selecting a few people who said something that piqued your interest. This is a great way to ensure you have something interesting to talk about during your meeting.
3. Make Scheduling Easy
Before you head out to your group meeting, make sure your digital calendar is up to date so you can schedule one-to-ones before you leave. This can help ensure you don’t leave the meeting with nothing more than a handful of business cards and good intentions.
If you don’t schedule your meetings in person, be sure to set aside some time during the same day to reach out and follow up. Otherwise, life will get in the way, and at least a few opportunities will fall through the cracks.
If you plan to reach out via email, consider using a scheduling tool like Calendly. This will make it easy to find a date and time that works for both of you without having to repeatedly email back and forth.
4. Do a Bit of Research
It’s always a good idea to come to your 1:1 prepared. Take a few minutes to visit the person’s business website and check them out on LinkedIn. This will help you ask smart questions while you’re meeting and show that you’re interested in the other person. You don’t need to dive deep into everything they do, but learn enough about them to feed your curiosity.
5. Ask Lots of Questions
One of the worst things you can do during a 1:1 is make it all about you. Of course, you’ll want to talk about who you are and what you do, but make sure you don’t do all the talking. Remember that the whole point is to learn things about each other so you can build a more personal relationship.
While you chat, look for commonalities. This will help you relate with them better and will make the connection more memorable
6. Don’t Say Too Much
When it’s your turn to talk, be careful not to say too much. While you may feel like you’re making a real connection, remember that you don’t really know the other person just yet. Be careful not to accidentally divulge confidential information or say anything that might feel like you’re gossiping about others.
7. Stay Focused
In today’s always-connected world, it’s hard to ignore your cell phone, smart watch, and other forms of distractions – but it’s rude not to at least try. Put away your devices and use a pen and paper to take notes. This will allow you to pay complete attention to the person who is speaking and really listen to what they’re saying.
8. Look for Ways to Offer Value
One of the best ways to make connections is to constantly look for ways to help the other person. Maybe it’s by sending them a referral or purchasing their product or service – but not always.
During your conversation, you may hear them say that they’re struggling with keeping their books – and you just happen to know a great bookkeeper. Or they tell you about their passion for beekeeping and you realize they could be the perfect speaker for your gardening club. When you really stop and listen, it’s amazing how easy it is to find ways to give.
9. Follow Up and Follow Through
It’s a great idea to take a few notes during your meeting, including writing down anything you’ve offered to do. As soon as possible after the meeting, make sure you follow through. Whether you’re sending a group email to make an introduction, providing a link with some detailed information, or just sending a quick email to thank them for their time, don’t put it off too long.
If you end your meetings without at least one action step, you’ll often find that although you had a great conversation, nothing ever comes of it.
10. Decide What You Want to Do Next
Hopefully, the bulk of your one-to-ones will lead to amazing connections and at least a few friends. But this probably won’t be the case every time. Unfortunately, there will be times when you’ll meet with someone who shows up just to sell and makes it all about them.
During those meetings, you’ll likely feel like you can’t wait to leave and you won’t really want to meet with them again.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone. The whole point of a one to one is to decide who you want to see again. Many of the meetings you have will be one-and-done, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It also doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great conversation when you run into the person at events, pass referrals on to them, or collaborate with them in the future.
If you do make a personal connection, take some steps to deepen the relationship. Connect with them on LinkedIn, follow their Instagram, or send them a Facebook friend request. You may just be on your way to forming incredible personal and/or business connections!
Start Scheduling Those One-to-Ones!
Now that you know exactly what to do, it’s time to start scheduling those one-to-one meetings. This is one of the best ways to make connections and grow your business – so don’t wait!
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