“Sorry, I Really Don’t Have Time To Meet…”

Although Summer officially ends on September 22 this year,  by custom the season ends on the day after Labor Day and this year we are back to work early on September 2.   If you were a smart and ambitious cookie,   you met with a good prospective client or two during Summer and you have plans in motion that will improve your chances of having a profitable 4th Quarter.  But maybe there are still a couple of people you’d like to connect with?

We all have someone on our prospect list whom we have been unable to reach.  This prospective client is often prestigious and holds the promise of green-lighting a big payday.  It is frustrating when we can’t get added to this person’s calendar.  Yet there are sometimes ways to capture lightning in a bottle and schedule that much-desired prospect meeting.  Good luck and timing will be involved,  but these will be aided by your ingenuity.

If you have not yet met your prospect,  then try to arrange a personal introduction.  Personal introductions are more effective than self-introductions and an introduction made by someone who is trusted by the prospect will be the most effective.  Tap into your LinkedIn connections and scroll through the connections of your connections.  It is a tedious process,  but you may discover a shared connection who could arrange to introduce you to your prospect.

Second,   conduct an internet search to find out what has been written about the prospect.   You may learn that this individual sits on a board where you have a friend who can facilitate an introduction.  You may learn that your prospect will present or moderate at a conference.  If that is the case,  then you should attend,  if possible.  Take notes at the presentation and ask a good question.   After the talk,  follow-up and speak with the prospect.  Your question will make your self-introduction easy to do and your good question will give you credibility.

Once you’ve met your prospect,  you will ask for a meeting.  Your prospect is a C Suite dweller who has many demands on his/her time.   In order to earn a sliver of that person’s time,   you must demonstrate that you will bring value,  that your meeting request is not all about you.   Find out what subjects may resonate with your prospect by searching for news about the prospect’s company;  for articles that your prospect may have authored;  for articles in which he/she was quoted;  and read postings on the company’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.  In addition,  visit the company website and find out if any interesting news has been posted.

Information gleaned from your research will be used to devise and present your value.   If you can teach your prospect something that he/she would like to know about,  then you are sharing  knowledge and insight and not just attempting to extract  a favor or a contract.  If you found that the prospect has authored an article or book,  or that he/she has been quoted,  then offer compliments and comment.  Because you will have made it known that there will be something in it for the prospect,  he/she will be more likely to agree to meet with you,  however briefly.

Offer to buy your prospect coffee or a quick breakfast and state what you’d like to discuss.   Additionally,  state that perhaps he/she would appreciate information on the subject that you’ve identified as potentially relevant.   Ask for 30 minutes of time.  If you learn that the prospect is on the way to another meeting,   offer a ride if you have a car and get another chance to not just talk,  but build a relationship.

24 hours after the meeting,  send written thanks.  An email may suffice,  but if the meeting was especially productive,  then send a short hand-written note on your company stationery or in a small note card that appears business-like.  Reconfirm any agreed-up actions and the time-table.  No matter the outcome of the meeting,   use the encounter to build the foundation for a lasting business relationship.

Thanks for reading and happy Labor Day weekend,

Kim

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