Lessons Learned on Networking

Meet (almost) anyone that you can.

CoffeShopNetworking I was an avid networker, and in the past six months have slowed down for many reasons. First and foremost, I am incredibly busy running a company and the thought of heading to an event or meeting after work (or being offline for an hour during the day) often stresses me out. In the spare time that I do get, I attempt to plan my fast approaching wedding. Second, I am always weary of bad meetings. Not that the meeting won’t go well, but that the other person has a sales agenda. I detest taking an hour of my time for someone to simply pitch me their business – be upfront and clear that you want to meet and sell me something and I’ll save us both time.

So, this week I was quite hesitant to schedule not one, but two coffees, on the same day, during, and after business hours. Fortunately, these two coffees reminded me why networking and meeting new people can be so amazing. The first woman has a fantastic non-profit that was incredibly inspiring and wonderful to discuss. I left the meeting excited to brainstorm with my team and help this non-profit further its mission. The second meeting was scheduled at 5:30 and I went into it hoping to be at the gym by 6:15. Well, the coffee went until 7:40 and I didn’t look at my clock once in between. The person that I met with had incredible insights into all aspects of the business world and I could have listened to him talk for hours more. I am lucky to have had the pleasure of grabbing coffee with him, and am thankful to have learned so much and to have had such excellent conversation in those two hours. We might even do business together in the near future (although I will still be perfectly happy with the meeting if we do not).

Moral of the story, meet with as many interesting people as you can because you never know what you might learn or what wonderful connection you might make. That being said, make sure you understand the other person’s agenda up front. If I have a feeling the meeting is sales focused, I inform the person upfront that I will not be buying their product/service, and if they are still interested in meeting we can arrange something. That simple email has recently saved me hours of coffee shop sales meetings and has ensured that my time has been well spent.

Photo courtesy of marfis75