Not all meetings are intra-staff meetings and not all meetings are pointless. With this in mind, I thought it ‘d be wise to follow up my post from yesterday.
In the past two days I have had to meet some strangers. Not all of them were complete strangers. I spoke with two of them prior to the face-to-face encounter. I knew why and when I was meeting some other strangers. However, meeting these people made me realize a few details that are important when meeting professionals that are strangers. Below is a scenario you’re likely to encounter and some suggestions on how to handle it.
The Scenario: You’ve corresponded with someone a few times via e-mail or telephone to arrange something, a business deal, a possible partnership, etc. Now, you must meet in-person to exchange ideas and materials, iron out details and generally get to know the person more before proceeding.
My Advice: Consider it a blind date. First, you don’t know what the person looks like. You could walk in the door at the same time and not even know it. Second, you don’t know anything personal about the person. If the meeting is at your office, try to clean up your workspace and the area where the person will be sitting. Another important thing is make sure there are beverages on hand and, preferably, snacks. This lets the person know you care about them. It also shows a great deal of respect.
The Big Deal: Having beverages available, and offering them to guests, is important. Not only because some people expect it, but also because it helps ease the tension of a forced introduction period. Rather than just shaking hands and doing formal introductions, it provides a natural transition from smiles to business. Not to mention it allows you a brief second or two to grab the drink and gather your thoughts.