Meet Smarter, Not Longer: 5 Tips to Maximize Networking

Meet Smarter, Not Longer: 5 Tips to Maximize Networking

Just the other day, I arranged for two leaders to meet. I told both of them that they only had 15 minutes to cover everything they needed to. No problem! They hit it out of the park and accomplished everything they wanted. I wasn’t too surprised. Precision with one’s time is a common trait in highly successful people. Unfortunately, I can’t always say the same for many networking professionals. A lot of people still make the mistake of requesting an hour of someone’s time, or even worse, a coffee with no plan and no set end time. 

I’ve always been a fan of Stephen Covey and his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of my favourite tips from him is to always ‘start a meeting with the ending in mind’. For me, that means placing the most crucial topic at the beginning of any meeting I have. If there are other agenda items, they’re bonus topics and included more for info rather than lengthy discussion. 

Nailing that elevator ride

I remember an incredibly successful (and busy) business leader in Manhattan who offered any networkers a ‘one-sentence opportunity.’ His attitude was, “Give me your best sentence and then I’ll decide if we take 15 minutes.” Oh, and in case you’re wondering, run-on sentences weren’t allowed either—he would just leave. While it may sound a bit extreme, I love this approach and the discipline it requires. 

I’m always amazed by just how many business professionals aren’t equipped for focused conversation. You know, that ‘elevator pitch’ scenario where you happen to cross paths with someone who could change the course of your professional life. When that happens (because it will), you need to be ready to have answers ready for the following three questions…  

1. What do you do/what’s your business?

2. What’s one thing that would transform your business?

3. How can I help you and why should I?

How to Maximize Time Spent Networking 

Business isn’t dating. Let’s determine the tangible outcome and whether we’re the right people to meet in the first place before setting up a meeting. And just to be clear, I’m not questioning the value of those spontaneous conversations that coffee chats or networking luncheons offer. Those types of ‘creative collisions’ are lovely, and I seek them out. However, knowing those interactions are different than a deliberate meeting request is essential. 

Even with these random networking opportunities, when I ask someone, “What do you need?” or “If I had a magic wand and could grant you one business wish, what would it be?” , many are stunned and offer blank stares. Come on! Your ‘Big Rocks’ are the most critical business priorities you have. So, if you don’t know them or can’t articulate them, why should I care? Here are some ways to help ensure you’re ready…

5 habits to start today:

1. Reflect, use a journal, write out what are big, tangible outcomes you want to achieve.

2. Practice articulating your pitch on close friends or colleagues and ask for their honest feedback.

3. Be ready when meeting influential leaders to ‘start with the end in mind ‘and tell them your Big Rock.

4. When requesting a call or meeting, ask for 14 or 18 minutes. Tell the other person you know how valuable their time is and you can cover what is important in this time.

5. If someone wants to talk longer, view it as an indication that they see value in what you have covered and are consciously deciding they’re okay with extending the time slot.

God willing, we each get 168 hours a week until the week we do not. In living a deliberate best life, I want to maximize mine and greatly appreciate those who do the same. So, with that in mind, I’ll leave you with this quote that sums things up nicely…

A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

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