As a venture capitalist, I have a lot of meetings. It’s basically in the job description when you get into the business so I sometimes take for granted the way I approach them. I recently spoke with an entrepreneur who was struggling to get the most out of his meetings and I was able to give him a little advice that I’d like to share here.
First, choose meetings carefully. This should go without saying, but time is precious and no one should take every meeting they are offered. There is no specific framework for deciding whether or not to take a meeting. Instead, you will need to trust your judgment to determine the value and benefits of each meeting opportunity. Once you’ve decided to take a meeting, there are two things to keep in mind.
1. You are responsible for making the meeting productive. If that means sending material beforehand, do it. If that means researching the person you’re meeting with, do it. If there’s no formal preparation, think about what you want to get out of the meeting and how. Even if the other party asked for the meeting and is trying to sell you something, you have decided to invest the time so it is up to you to make sure that you get something out of it. If the other party makes the meeting productive for you, great, but don’t expect it.
2. Now, if you only follow the first point you might become a sociopath so my second piece of advice when approaching a meeting is to do your best to make sure that every meeting ends with the other party feeling better about you (and your company or cause) than they did when the meeting started. With a few bizarre expectations, you will always be better served by people being positively disposed to you and your organization. That’s also a primary responsibility when you meet with people.
There are a lot of types of meetings and infinite discussions about how to structure and approach them, but I challenge you to implement these simple (not necessarily easy) tips when you have your next meeting.
By: Neill Occhiogrosso, Partner