The famous Shakespearean line "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."
What matters is what something is, not what it is called.
Chances are, if I were to ask any of my prospects today, they would tell me about at least one if not several bad “virtual coffee meetings” they had this week. How do I know? Because when they come to us, they tell me they are tired of time-wasting “pitch meetings” disguised as a “networking meeting.”
I also hear about them from our new members all the time. Thankfully, once they join, they learn how to handle this because we teach them how to have a clear understanding of why they are meeting and a stated agenda before each meeting.
Have you ever been to those meetings where you felt like the other person did all the talking and you barely got in the word “Hello.”?
Or the other person droned on about something utterly irrelevant, so you had nothing to contribute and just felt trapped?
The worst is when you get introduced to someone, you both agree to meet, but you have two very different objectives as to why you’re there. It’s like a bad date that is uncomfortable from the start and goes downhill from there.
But when you have that rare, tremendously engaging meeting, you feel euphoric in part because it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.
So why do we keep having bad meetings?
Cognitive science tells us it has to do with neural pathways that get created as we do things. When we do something right, a pathway is created. When we do something wrong, the same pathway is created. So you create the memory despite it being right or wrong. You keep having bad meetings because you’ve trained yourself to.
How do we fix it? How do we have more good meetings and less bad ones?
Create a new habit from a fresh perspective without analyzing past behavior, which will only solidify the old pathway.
Here’s a fresh perspective for you to consider to help others, especially a referral partner you’re trying to nurture, to get out of the abyss of bad meetings.
Proactively set the right expectations.
Most people don’t do this to a sufficient level, so here’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd. A great connector is thoughtful about putting two people together and don’t make it a secret. It’s not a numbers game. It’s personal.
Here’s a framework we use for our members.
Referrals - At Centricity, a referral is a connection to someone that has a 75+% chance of closing into a client. Which means you have talked to each person about the other. You should know what the service provider charges, and you've taken the time to find out if the potential client has a need and can afford the service. The connection is made with the explicit intention they are there to talk about whether the service is a fit for each other. However, a word of caution - do not try to sell the person’s service to the referral. Ask the service provider to give you the language to use when making the introduction. The worst thing you can do is set the wrong expectations resulting in the person coming into the meeting with preconceived ideas.
Introductions - This is where the biggest mistake happens that leads to bad meetings. It is making an introduction and calling it a referral. In a well done introduction, you set the expectation with both people that you have no idea if this will result in a business relationship. But you do think it may be worthwhile for each other to meet because of “x.” It's up to them to figure it out.
Favors - This is another critical mistake. Sometimes, people ask a friend or client for a favor to meet with someone they normally wouldn’t meet with. In most cases, favors are not about business but more about giving advice. You cannot call this a referral or an introduction. Nothing will derail a meeting faster than someone thinking they are doing you a favor and getting to a meeting where they are pitched or their time is wasted. You’ve also now lit a small fire under a bridge you probably don’t want to burn.
Random - Not all introductions need to be business-related. Sometimes you think two people will hit it off and build a different type of relationship. Maybe they are both new to the area and are looking for new non-business people to meet, or both are into Comic Con.
The next time you give a referral, make sure that it’s not really an introduction, favor, or just random—set expectations clearly on why you are making the connection and become a more valuable connector.
If you’re the recipient of a connection with no expectations, be entrepreneurial and ask. Only you can protect your time.
P.S. In our client acquisition program, we teach and coach our members on getting more of the clients they want and less of the clients they don’t. If you’re ready to change your client mix, click here to find out if you qualify for an invitation.