Connect Meetings – Adding Value to Your Network
One of the most effective ways to get to know your networking partners is to have Connect Meetings, which are essentially face to face, getting to know each other appointments. By getting to know our networking partners, we will be better equipped to introduce them to their ideal prospects and perhaps even deepen relationships based on knowing them better, liking them, trusting them, and valuing what they offer to their clients.
Following are a couple of tips that might help you maximize the value of your connect meetings, a few things to avoid when having effective connect meetings, and a handful of great questions to enrich your connections.
If you’d like to take connect meetings to a whole new level, please consider work that has been done over the past couple of decades by Dr. Arthur Aron at the University of New York in the area of accelerating closeness. Dr. Aron concluded that the fastest way to closeness included staring into the other person’s eyes for four minutes uninterrupted and both in complete silence. Through several additional studies, there are another 36 questions that accelerate trust, closeness, and authenticity. Individually or combined, these two exercises have proven to start and improve relationships. If you and your connect partner are both Bold enough to try either or both of those exercises, please share the outcomes with me! I’ve attached a worksheet with the 36 Questions.
Six Things to Avoid For Effective Connect Meetings
- Pitching – the point of a connect meeting is not to sell anything. By pitching, you’re likely to put the other person on the defensive and you are likely to stifle any future introductions. By building this relationship, you are likely to get introduced to their entire network vs. trying to sell the one person in front of you.
- Recruiting – nor discussing business opportunities without your Connect partner’s advance permission. As excited as you may be about your opportunity, if you don’t have advance permission, you are likely to make the other person uncomfortable and not get the result you are seeking in the first place. If you have their permission, in advance of the meeting, or they ask you to share any opportunity, it’s totally okay to discuss.
- One-sided conversations – connect meetings are conversations between two professionals to learn more about each other and their ideal prospects. The only way to learn something about someone else is to ask meaningful questions and then actively listen to understand and clarify their answers.
- Timing Issues – postponing, being late, or canceling (especially last minute) convey that we don’t respect their time or our own and may convey that you don’t value the other person. Also, it may reflect on how we will treat any referrals given in an unprofessional manner.
- Open-ended meeting length – it can be very easy to have longer than necessary connect meetings. Let’s face it, hanging out with a new friend is typically a lot more fun than working. So, unless you are having a connect meeting outside normal productive time, it is best to set a start and stop time and respect each other’s time and productivity.
- Emotionally charged topics – some topics can be abrasive and perhaps aggressive. Avoid talking about politics, sex, religion, and other emotionally charged topics. Such topics, while great for debate, can quickly derail an otherwise great relationship. With this, include the use of profane language unless both parties are totally comfortable, as well as others within earshot.
Seven Secrets for Great Connect Meetings
- Curious Mindset – you’re getting to know someone and being curious helps us convey we care enough to be curious and ensures that we ask great questions. Even though you may know someone in a similar profession or even in the same company, your new friend may have a completely different perspective and definitely has a uniqueness.
- Be prepared – research your new friend using social media. Learn what you can about them on social media and elsewhere on the internet including reading articles about them and what they do. If appropriate, do a little homework on their company and interests.
- Learn what you can about their DISC personality traits (Dominant, Interactive, Stabilizer, or Cautious), so you can ask better questions.
- Learn about their hobbies and interests and what drives them when they aren’t working.
- Learn anything you can that will add to the conversation and communicate that you invested the time to learn more about them.
- Actively Listen – listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication skills. Mastery of this one skill is absolutely critical to success in all of our relationships. An earlier article on Active Listening might be helpful.
- Minimize distractions – nothing conveys you don’t care as much as checking your text messages, playing with your smartwatch, or sending emails during a connect meeting.
- If you’re easily distracted, like me, position yourself with distractions out of view like TVs, picture windows, doorways, etc.
- With permission, take notes and clarify details.
- Safety – keeping your new friend feeling safe and non-judged helps them to openly communicate and connect. By communicating with our “Nurturing Parent”, as discussed in our earlier training topic Keeping Your Prospect Safe, we can nurture better conversations. The manner in which we ask questions, our body language conveys judgment, and the words we choose can greatly impact our conversation. This is the companion mindset for not selling or recruiting during a connect meeting; however, this is much deeper and requires a greater degree of empathy.
- Use Mutually Agreed Agendas with Outcomes – it is easy to get off on the wrong foot if we aren’t on the same page. By clarifying the time, both start and stop, what their agenda is and then ours, and finally any needed outcomes like scheduling our next meeting, connecting on social media, and any follow-up can be super helpful.
- Have Extra-ordinary Grace – most people aren’t trained in Bold and probably haven’t learned most of these mindsets and techniques. In fact, they may try to sell you or recruit you quite aggressively. If you’ve set a Mutually Agreed Agenda, it will be much easier to redirect the conversation; however, a little grace goes a long, long way. It’s okay to keep them safe and remind them of why you are getting together and that includes getting to know the problems they solve and their ideal prospects so you can actively connect them with others in your network that might need to know them.
- Continue to Add Value – Following a Connect Meeting, you can continue to add value in many ways. For example, you might consider:
- Providing introductions or referrals, resources, and additional connections within 24-48.
- Connect on and leverage social media like LinkedIn and Facebook. Like each other’s personal and business pages and profiles.
- Post a selfie of the meeting and share their ideal clients or testimonial.
- Create a Facebook Live promo video.
- Send a thank you card.
Great Questions for Connect Meetings
- Of all the things you could do, why did you choose to do what you’re doing now?
- What do you want to be when you grow up, if ever?
- What’s required to be in your career?
- If you could change one thing about your profession, what would that be?
- How do you measure your success in your profession?
- What do you do for fun? Hobbies, charities, etc.
- Are you from this area? Typically a pretty safe question
- What brought you to the area?
- Family questions – are you from a big family? Where are they from? Any kids? Grandkids?
- Do you belong to any interesting organizations or groups?
- Do you have any exciting plans on the horizon? Vacations, cruises, trips?
- Ideal Prospects
- What problems do you solve for your ideal prospects that your competitors might not do as well?
- What can you tell me about your ideal prospects? Specifics?
- How will I know when I’ve met when of your ideal prospects?
- What is the best way for me to introduce them to you?