What to Talk About in 1:1 Meetings

Anyone who recommends networking in order to grow your business will tell you that you should book one-to-ones (1:1)with people. But why does nobody ever talk about what to do during that one-on-one meeting? We’re going to run through 10 tips today about how to build connections through one-on-one meetings.

The first thing is to understand who you should have one-on-ones with. Well, if you are actually joining a networking group, or a club, or an organization, the obvious is just to make your way through the roster. You can go right to the website and start going through the list, reaching out to people to introduce yourself to everyone. This is where I love Calendly. Give them your link and say, “Hi, I’m new to the group. I would love to get to know you let’s do a one-on-one.” That’s all you need to say.

If somebody is in a networking organization, they too want to have one to ones and are probably very excited to have that connection with you. In addition, every time you’re going to an event with this group, select a few people that you were curious about from the things that they said in their intro and reach out after the event.

The second tip is about how many one-on-one’s you should have in a week. Just a quick segue before we even continue on these 10 tips, I try to aim personally to have at least five per week overall. I know some who aim for 10. I know some do two, the number of meetings you have overall each week is up to you. A good rule of thumb is from every networking event to try to have two one-on-one’s scheduled after the event. But as you’re going to learn, you’re keeping up with these your contacts. So the people that you are connecting with will repeat every few months.

Third is that Zoom one-on-ones are always a great option. If you are like me and trying to fit in 5 or more per week, try to have your one-on-ones on zoom because it cuts down on that driving time. It also cuts down on the meetings lasting over one hour. When I really enjoy somebody, I don’t want to stop talking to them and we tend to go way over time. Zoom one-on-ones can really help with that. They can also help you fit more of these meetings into your schedule. It was tough before COVID to get people to use Zoom for one-on-ones. But now in this post COVID world or this during COVID world, people are going to be open to doing that more often, and that can really help you with your schedule and fit more in.

The fourth tip is that you should do a tiny bit of homework before the meeting, but not too much. By homework, I mean, check out their LinkedIn profile. If you’re having a one-on-one with them, you can connect with them on LinkedIn while you’re there. If they have a website, check that out, but you don’t want to do too much. Why? Because you want to be curious when they’re talking. You want to ask questions and seem interested, you don’t want to look like you know everything they’re going to say. Get an overview, understand a little bit about them, and then come to that one-on-one with open curiosity.

Fifth is when you in your meeting, ask, ask, ask. Don’t make it all about you. Of course, you’re going to get excited when they say things, and then you’re going to go back and forth with your talking, it will not all be asking. That’s fine, the whole point is for you each to know a lot about each other, so they’re going to ask you things too. You’re trying to discover things about each other. It’s the whole point of building our relationships. We want to know more than just what people do for work.

Look for the commonalities. Why? It will help you remember them better. And you’ll always have something that you can relate to with them. When you next see them, you can ask “Hey, how are you doing with this thing?” And you’ll hopefully be genuinely excited about it, because guess what? If you’re excited about them, they’re going to feel that enthusiasm and like you back.

The sixth tip is that you want to ask “how can I help you?” without saying the words, how can I help you. Because guess what? There’s a big trend in networking, teaching that every time you meet someone, ask how can I help you? But if you actually say those words to somebody in the middle of a one-on-one, and you are peers, they’re going to feel awkward, put on the spot, and uncomfortable. I guarantee it. Especially if they are more introverted. You’ll see it in their face when you ask. And respond oddly with an “I don’t know? What do you want me to ask for?” type response.

This question can work well if you are more advanced in your career or in age than the person you are meeting with, but with your peers, you need to do the work yourself and listen. Listen, when you’re asking questions. Listen to what they’re saying. If somebody is saying that they want to speak more, you can say, I have these great places that you can speak! Let me put you in touch with the right people. Or if they’re saying, that they are trying to get an introduction to a specific person. You can let them know that you can introduce them to that person. It’s about asking the right questions and listening.

These meetings are not about you selling. You are aiming to connect, to have a relationship, to give. If however, you do all of a sudden find that you can solve their problem and you have a product or a service that’s perfect for them, a great way to do this is to say “You know, that’s what I do. If you want to have a conversation about that, let me know. We’ll schedule something.” And then they are very aware that you can solve the problem, but they do not feel pressured in this meeting that you’re having. They do not feel like you’re turning your connection into a sales meeting. And if they are interested, they will book something with you.

The seventh tip is that after your meeting, you want to make sure that you follow through. If you say that you’re going to do something, try to follow through by end of the week, try to get those connections to them that you’re trying to do, try to do whatever the thing you said you were going to help them do, try to do that. You won’t be perfect, but just try, do your best. If you have not yet followed though, when you see them at your next group meeting, you can tell that you’re meaning to introduce them to this person. They’ll get it. Don’t ignore the fact that you have not followed through. Just do your best.

Eighth is to schedule another meeting. You do not have to do this at the meeting though. I keep a spreadsheet for the quarterly coffees that I have with people. When I have one-on-ones with people, I would say that 20% of the people I have one-on-ones with go into my quarterly rotation. They are the 20% that I can’t wait to talk to again and that I felt really were enjoying time with me as well. Sometimes you just don’t click. Remember that you want to be reconnecting with people and establishing relationships, but not everyone is also open to that in networking.

Be sure that every three months or so (monthly is way too often and if you to six months, you sometimes lose the momentum you created) you reach out to your connections. What I do say at that first one-on-one is that if I want to continue and reach out again, I’ll say, “Hey, I like you. I love to have my favorite people in the spreadsheet. And I will reach out to you in three months and we will have another coffee. If I fall off and I’m a little late, I’m coming.” They get excited. I get excited. Everybody wins.

The ninth is to stay in touch on social media. A great strategy is to first, network and have one-on-ones. Then make sure you’re connected across social media. Why? Because your network gets to keep up with you in between your coffees. It gives you something to talk about when you see each other next and it gives your network an understanding of how they can help you. You can see how you can help them. You can collaborate. Everybody understands what’s going on. If you want to send somebody to their social media, it makes it easy. Connect with them on the social medias that you are using.

The last and tenth tip is to remember that not everyone wants to be your best friend. I say this to both my dog and my husband all the time, and I too have to be reminded of this. Sometimes you meet people. One of my favorite books Give and Take by Adam Grant (I sum the book up in one page here) explains to us that it’s just basic human nature. Not everybody is a giver. A few are takers. A few are exchangers. And sometimes when you end up in a one-on-one with a taker, you know it, and you probably don’t want to have another one-on-one with them. Because they’re just selling. They’re just pitching in that meeting and you can’t wait to get out of there. Then there are sometimes people who rub you the wrong way. Sometimes there are people that you have nothing to talk about with and it’s exhausting to have a conversation with them. You don’t have to see those people again.

The whole point of having one-on-ones is to find out who you want to keep seeing. Not everybody that you’re having a one-on-one with is somebody that you need to keep having one-on-ones with there is nothing wrong with that. Remember that 80% of these meetings will be one and done. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great conversation with them when you see them at events, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pass referrals to them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t collaborate with them. You just don’t want to have one-on-ones four times a year and go deep with your realtionship. That’s okay. You also may not want to ever see them again. That’s okay too. The whole point of networking, of meeting people, is about finding your group of people who energizes you and helps you grow as a person, as a business, and who you do the same for.

Now get out there and start reaching out! Even though we’re in a world of zoom. If you’re in an organization, look at that list of members. Who have you not had a one-on-one with? If somebody connects you to somebody say, let’s have a one-on-one! Not everyone says yes. And that’s absolutely fine. But those that do, very cool things sometimes happen. You never know. And if you’d like, you can reach out and have a one-on-one with me. You know what I’ll do send you my Calendly link. We’ll get set right on up for a zoom one-on-one.

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