How to conduct a one-to-one meeting

More often than not, the first stage in following up after meeting someone will involve a one-to-one or in-person meeting.

These meetings mark a milestone in your relationship, and it’s important that you invest the time to strengthen the relationship. After all, big ticket opportunities normally only come from a very strong relationship.

Here are our pointers and tips to help you have a fantastic one-to-one:

1. Prepare and research

Your aim for this one-to-one is to have a productive meeting and deepen the relationship. Don’t be too eager to go in and sell, unless of course the other person has asked for this meeting to investigate using your services. If you strengthen the relationship, opportunities and work will always follow.

Before you go, make sure that you’ve looked at their website, searched for them on Google, read their recent tweets and their LinkedIn profile. Also have a quick look on the internet for relevant trade news to discuss with them, in case the conversation dries up.

2. Have a goal for the meeting

Your time is valuable – know what you want to get out of the meeting before you go. But you shouldn’t go in with a fixed agenda, either, as the needs of the other person may change or may not be what you thought they would be.

For example, I timetabled a one-to-one with a potential new client. As the conversation unfolded, my potential client’s needs and requirements changed substantially and the meeting took a completely different – yet successful – direction.

At the start of the meeting, do ask the question,  “What are you aiming to achieve with today’s meeting?” This will help both of you align each other’s expectations to the purpose of meeting.

3. Listen and explore

Whether you’re doing a short ten minute one-to-one or have set up a longer time to talk and get to know each other, take the time to listen and explore. Ideally, you want to be listening more than you’re talking. Most people are very passionate about their business, so tap into this passion and aim to find out as much as possible about their business. For example:

  • What prompted them to start their business?
  • What are their future plans and goals?
  • What is it that they like most (or don’t like) about their business?
  • How do they plan to grow their business?
  • What’s their ideal referral?
  • What pain do they solve for their clients?
  • How would you spot an ideal client for them?
4. Find a quiet place to talk

The key to this meeting is to really listen to one another. This is impossible in a busy hotel lounge or noisy pub. Some people may have a strong auditory preference,  and will find it difficult to concentrate or focus with a high level of background noise.

5. Ask for the referral

If you feel the conversation is going well, do take the opportunity to ask for a referral. This is actually very simple:

“Who do you know who would benefit from my services?”

What’s your pointers for a successful one-to-one?

Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.

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