Why do people keep telling me they want to have a 1-2-1 meeting with me?
I don’t know what a 1-2-1 meeting even is?!
What is this thing that people keep talking about?!
Am I supposed to say yes?!
I’m not sure what I’ll be letting myself in for if I say yes?!
If I say no am I being rude?!
What’s so important about it anyway?!
If you’ve been rattling around the business networking circuit for a while, you will be totally comfortable with the phrase “let’s have a 1-2-1” but for anyone that’s new to the scene you could well be left wondering what on earth people are babbling about!
So I’m here to clear up these murky waters that you have dipped your toe into, making everything sparkly and clear for you!
What is a 1-2-1?
Before we launch into the nitty-gritty, let me reassure you that it’s nothing to worry your pretty little head about and you will soon be flaunting your own 1-2-1 invitations with confidence!
You may be forgiven for thinking that a 1-2-1 meeting is something a little daunting, especially if you’ve never heard the term before.
In its most simplistic form, having a 1-2-1 with someone basically means having a chat.
See, not that scary after all hey!
It’s a chat with a purpose and it’s great to have some kind of strategy, structure or format to help keep you on track.
There are also a few unwritten ‘rules’ around this area about what could be considered great versus not so great behaviours to either embrace, or avoid!
So I thought I’d buck the trend and make the unwritten, written so you can absolutely nail your networking follow ups and set a precedent, let’s do it!
Why bother with a 1-2-1?
When you go to networking meetings, whether they are online or in person events you will end up meeting quite a few people.
You may pick up a little bit of information about individuals, but you generally don’t get time to find out too much about each other.
The whole point of networking is to get to know the people that you meet.
Whilst at an event it’s impossible to get to speak to everybody and there are usually at least a handful of people who pique your interest and you would like more time to have a meaningful conversation with them.
That’s where the phrase 1-2-1 comes in.
It simply means that you and another person would like to arrange a time to have a private conversation to find out more about each other.
It could be that you were intrigued by something a person said, an experience they have had, the business they are in, or you share similar interests.
You could even need their products or services or know someone who does.
There are many reasons why you may be drawn to someone, it could be their personality or their morals and values.
Scheduling a mutually convenient time to find out more about each other after your initial meeting is referred to as a 1-2-1.
So now I get to sell my shit, right?!
Whoa, calm down!
Now here’s the thing, many people view a 1-2-1 as an opportunity to pitch their business with a hard sell approach.
Please don’t ever do that!
That is not what it’s for!
Yes, you will both share an insight into what each other does, but it is not a way for you to bulldoze someone into submission with your sales pitch!
The business networking model is built on building relationships, mutual bonds of trust, respect and beneficial business connections.
Ramming your business down someone’s throat at the very first opportunity you get will do you no favours when it comes to laying those foundations.
It’s important to remember that a 1-2-1 is exactly that, it’s a chance for both parties to rock up and bring their wares to the table; it should never be a one sided conversation with one person dominating the whole shebang!
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules about what a 1-2-1 should consist of, there is an unspoken etiquette that should be observed if you’re both to get the maximum benefit.
Some factors to consider when arranging your 1-2-1 meetings.
There is of course the old fashioned “When are you free” method which is still alive and kicking, however it can be really tricky trying to sync diaries and find a time when you’re both free.
It can even be quite time consuming if you’re going backwards and forwards over email or messages, fruitlessly attempting to establish a convenient day and time that works for both parties.
More and more people are now using automated systems which have the benefits of being incredibly easy to schedule and even sending reminders out to each person.
There are lots of options when it comes to online diary booking platforms such as Calendly & Acuity, my favourite which I have been using for over a year now is Setmore.
I can’t tell you how much easier it made my life by putting this in place and it was incredibly easy to set up and has saved me so much time and stress.
If you haven’t got anything in place at the moment I highly recommend taking a look at Setmore which costs around £6 per month. I’ve included a magic link at the bottom of this piece that gives you a discount too!
You simply send your URL and it enables someone to see when you are available, check their own diary and book in with you.
You will receive a notification that you’ve had a slot booked and most systems also set up a video call simultaneously and include it within the booking confirmation and reminder details.
The other benefit from this is that it makes your meetings more time bound.
What I mean by this is that when setting up your diary booking system you can allocate your desired duration for your 1-2-1. Some people book out an hour, some half an hour, some three quarters, it really depends on your own schedule and how much time you have to dedicate to this area.
It’s important to remember that networking without any follow up 1-2-1 meetings is pretty much a complete waste of your time, however there is a fine balance to be found between too much networking and too many 1-2-1s and not enough of either!
This is very much down to the individual but if you can, it’s a really good idea to segment out a portion of your working week which you dedicate to networking follow ups and 1-2-1s.
If you’re using an automated diary booking platform it’s as simple as both of you clicking the link that the system set up and you both join your meeting.
Obviously if you’re meeting in person you would amend this and remove the video option or you could even make the 1-2-1 a phone call.
When it comes to arranging these 1-2-1s there’s a few points that should be fairly common sense however are things that seem to pop up time and time again.
When someone asks to schedule a 1-2-1 have the decency to either accept and make an arrangement or politely decline for another time if your schedule is too hectic.
Ignoring someone doesn’t show you in a very good light, even if it’s not something you want to do right now, firing off a quick email to say you’re stacked and will give them a shout when you have more availability takes barely a few minutes out of your day.
We’re all busy, life is busy, business is busy, our personal commitments and everything that we all have going on in our lives eat up little chunks of our time and some days, before we know it, we’ve realised that we are late for something important and have forgotten what we’re supposed to be doing!
Just as your time is precious, so is everyone else’s. If you have to reschedule or are running late don’t just expect the other person to hang around waiting for you!
Believe it or not this has happened to me so many times with no communication from the other person and to be honest, it’s just plain rude.
It also doesn’t makes very good impression when it comes to business so please bear this in mind.
Before your 1-2-1 meeting.
You’ve met someone, sent out the link, or arranged a time via another method, got a date in the diary, it’s time for the 1-2-1, what next?
First off, make sure you know who you’re talking to, where you met them and a brief idea of what they do.
I’ve had a few to many 1-2-1 occurrences with people and they didn’t have a clue why we were talking, who I was or how this meeting had come about!
One in particular that sticks in my mind was with somebody I had met at an online networking event and I got in touch to arrange a 1–2-1. We spent an hour chatting but when I say we, I actually mean they.
Right at the very end they then made a comment which assumed I was in the same industry as them, to which I pointed out that I wasn’t. They didn’t then ask me what I did, just ended the conversation and we both went on our merry way.
This person also spent a lot of their time moaning and complaining about their clients and everything just seemed like too much hassle for them to be bothered with.
All things combined it didn’t leave me with a very good impression of the person, or their business.
I could easily have referred potential new clients their way, however because I didn’t have a very positive experience during our chat, neither did I have the confidence or assurance that made me feel that new customers would be appreciated or treated well.
Not a very promising start when it comes to building that foundation of mutual trust and respect.
You would usually have connected with the person you’re going to be talking to so have a little perusal of their LinkedIn profile, website or any other details that you have prior to your 1-2-1.
Here’s a rundown of what makes a great 1-2-1 that benefits both people involved.
If you only take away one piece of advice from me when it comes to your 1-2-1 meetings, it is this…
Be interested, interesting and genuine!
Omitting any of the above will be a sure fire way to see your new connection disappear in a puff of smoke never to be seen again!
Ask questions and show a genuine interest in the answers you are given and don’t feel you need to make this all purely business based.
If you’re stuck for a place to start the old classics are always the best and a quick intro that includes the location and the weather in your part of the world can open up the conversation nicely.
The purpose of this meeting is to gain an insight into what both parties businesses consist of, so asking questions to ensure that you fully understand what each other offers is crucial.
Really listen to what is being said and it’s a really good idea to take notes so you can refer back to them for future meetings. Often a lot of ground is covered in these meetings and if you have a memory like mine you’ll forget everything as soon as you say goodbye!
Notes are also really handy when it comes to making referrals as chances are you’re meeting a lot of people and it’s almost impossible to remember the names and details of everyone, especially at the exact moment you need them; ie not at 3am in the morning when your brain is inexplicably in overdrive with useless at the time facts!
Make a point of asking who their ideal client is, who they like working with, what geographical areas they cover if applicable, who their products/services are aimed at, how they got into their business, why they do it, what their favourite parts of what they do are, what they need right now to help them.
Questions like these will give you valuable information to build up a really solid picture of what is offered and during the conversation you may well think of people you know who would be good connections who you could make introductions to.
Being helpful when it comes to networking and contributing your own thoughts and ideas that have the potential to make a difference to the person you’re talking to in some way will do you far more good than relentlessly attempting to sell ‘at’ someone.
You will be remembered favourably for adding value, not so much if all you’re interested in is promoting yourself.
It’s not all about business.
Don’t forget it is just as important to get to know the individual on a more personal level, as the person behind the business is the essence of what makes that business unique.
Showing your own personality, sense of humour and ethics all get added into the pot when others are forming an opinion of you and what you offer within your business, similarly it’s absolutely ok and definitely an important part of getting to know someone else.
Don’t be afraid to talk about and ask a few questions that aren’t business related, as long it’s not too personal, keep it light, especially on a first meeting; wait until you’ve gotten to know someone particularly well before you go in for a deep dive on the juicy stuff!
If you say you’re going to do something for somebody after your conversation, then make sure you actually follow through and do it!
I have lost count of the number of people who have promised all kinds of information, connections, support etc, but then not done any of it all. Maybe because they forgot or became busy but you can make sure you’re not the one guilty of doing this.
If it’s something simple you can do whilst your chatting, like connecting them with a contact of yours or pinging a few links across, do it there and then so it’s completed and you’re not giving yourself more work to do at another time.
Don’t over commit yourself if you find yourself offering to do things to help someone out of the goodness of your heart. Refrain from bending over backwards to go all out with promises of this, that and the other, only to then realise you don’t have the time, energy or resources to come good with what you have kindly put out there in the heat of the moment!
Always be honest about your capabilities, skill sets and availabilities as overpromising and under delivering won’t leave the right impression with anyone you’ve connected with.
Having a 1-2-1 meeting with someone shouldn’t feel like a chore or something you feel you really ought to be doing but can’t really be bothered to do!
People are cool! Everyone is totally different, everyone has their own experiences, talents and knowledge, finding out all that stuff is really interesting.
You never know what hidden treasures you will discover and that’s pretty awesome!
Networking isn’t just about who’s in the room when you go to events, each person there has their own connections and it is super, super, SUPER important to never write anybody off because you just never know what they could bring into your world!
Entering into the networking world with an open mind will invariably lead to all kinds of possibilities for you with a tonne of benefits for your life and your business.
Keeping yourself closed off, not engaging and not regarding it as an important part of your business that needs attention in order to thrive means you will be missing out, big time!
Now go and book in some 1-2-1 meetings and have fun!
If you’d like to really ramp up your networking follow up you can book a Power Hour with my where we will set up a complete automated system for you which is a total game changer!
It’s a unique strategy which I implemented last year when my head was in a complete spin with a gazillion networking meetings and 1-2-1s all over the place and I realised I needed a foolproof plan in order to maximise the time I was investing into networking.