Here are five tips to help you get the most out of that first face to face introduction:
- Don't talk business - unless they want to. Let the other person guide the conversation. Talking about food or sports could lead to a very productive conversation.
- Take a genuine interest in them. Learn about them and their business. Think of this as the purest form of market research.
- Don't waste your time - or theirs. You're not going to connect with everyone you meet. If that chemistry isn't there, politely end the conversation and move on.
- Play match maker. Referring contacts and resources makes you a person worth knowing. And your thoughtfulness will come back to you many times over.
- Follow up. Propose a phone call or meeting to continue the conversation. Ask if they're on LinkedIn. Be sure to send an email letting them know you appreciated their time. Keep it personal and light. The business part will take care of itself.