By Brad Groznik
Networking is an important part of any business (especially new ones), which is why I spend more than half my time meeting and talking with new people while getting my PR practice off the ground.
But I can squander the opportunity if I don’t go through this checklist each time I meet someone for coffee.
1. Check out their website.
People are happy to meet and talk with me about starting my business, but if I don’t prepare ahead of time to learn what I can about the person and their business, I end up asking superficial questions I could have learned from their website. This wastes both of our time.
2. Find one thing they have done that I can learn from.
Unless they’re Tony Robbins, it can be hard for people to give helpful general advice. However, it’s easy for people to tell stories about their own life. That’s why I always try to figure out at least one challenge a person has overcome that I can ask them about and learn from.
3. Find at least one thing I can offer to help with.
There are a lot of benefits to networking but if you only think about what you can gain, you’re only half way there. If I can’t figure this out ahead of time, I explore it during our meeting – sometimes, it’s just sending them a helpful article I read, sometimes it’s a PR recommendation. The point is, people are much more willing to be helpful if you’re helpful and if I’m asking a lot of a person, I should be prepared to reciprocate.
4. Ask for at least one introduction.
Networking is a constant process with one contact leading to another. I like to ask the person I’m meeting if they could introduce me to one other person in their network. Many times, they’re happy to introduce me to two or three people, and personal recommendations and introductions go a long way when setting up my next coffee…and starting the process all over again.