Winning Ways for First Meetings

What were you thinking about during a recent first meeting with a prospective client? Were you listening intently or were you distracted by what you wanted to say?

I’ve been thinking about a great first meeting that I had with a prospective client last week. From the moment we sat down the conversation was off and running. The meeting was an important opportunity, but I resisted the natural pull to stay stuck in my own brain and instead focused on the other person. Reflecting back, the meeting’s success was due to two things: 1) Curiosity-fueled preparation and 2) Demonstrating (not telling) the ways in which I could be a helpful resource.

Curiosity-Fueled Preparation

  1. I read through the background information found on the company’s web-site and in a Google search, and profile information on LinkedIn, to learn about the other person and her company but¬†also to identify what I didn’t know yet. Rather than plan out what I wanted to say about my business, I focused on what I wanted to ask about my prospect’s business.
  2. Armed with what I knew and what I wanted to know, I anticipated a few possible openers to kick off the conversation.

Demonstrating vs. Telling

  1. I built on my questions by sharing new perspectives and insights from my unique vantage point.
  2. I respected the prospective client’s expertise and demonstrated how my knowledge, expertise and experience complement it.
  3. I offered a sneak peak at what the prospect would experience when we work together: relevant suggestions, fresh thinking about her business and tips that will help her business be more successful.

Your next business lunch

Just for fun…the next time you’re in a restaurant on a weekday, observe the conversation of business people lunching nearby. ¬†Chances are you’ll be able to spot the good listeners and those preoccupied with their own thoughts.


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