How many cups of coffee do you need to cultivate a networking contact? Here is a comment from a reader, and my response to it:
"[My biggest challenge is] following up after the initial meeting, and another follow-up after the first coffee/drink, and eventually developing this new contact as a longer term network contact. People are busy, and after the first chat, it sometimes seems like we may not have more to talk about later. "
That's absolutely correct.
If after the first (or second) chat, there seems nothing more to talk about, that's a red flag - don't ignore it!
It is very possible that you don't have any mutual interest. (After all, you don't become close friends with everyone you meet. The same is true in the business context. )
In fact, that is the purpose of the initial conversation - to find out whether or not you and the other person share a common interest.
The common interest may be exchanging leads and referrals, it may be a product or service that one of you wants to sell that the other may want to buy, or it may be something else.
So when you get together for that initial cup of coffee, be clear about what you want to get out of that conversation or meeting. In other words:
- Why are you getting together? To talk about what?
- How will you recognize whether this is a relationship you want to develop further?
- How will you share this information with the other person?
- What will you do if only one of you is interested in further developing the relationship? (Hint: there are infinite shades of gray between “yes" and “no" - if you'll excuse the mixed metaphor. )
Pay close attention during this initial conversation.
If you suspect that there's no common interest to build the relationship, decide carefully how you want to proceed.
Your time, energy and money are valuable resources - use them wisely.
(c) Copyright 2007, Srirupa Dasgupta
Srirupa Dasgupta is the author of Effortless Networking: Everyday Wisdom to Transform your Business and Life . She helps business professionals build, sustain and leverage the professional and personal network that is necessary to succeed. For more information, visit her website at http://www.EffortlessNetworking.com .