Ah, the time-honored "business lunch." A chance to meet and greet and close sales at the same time you have a tasty meal! It's fitting that we discuss the idea of the business lunch this month, since we're spending time discussing places where you, as an entrepreneur, lose entirely too much time on actions that don't pay off.
In this article, though, we're also going to pick on the idea of "having a cup of coffee" too. Nowhere else in your day as an owner allows you to lose so much for so little - if you don't exert some control!
Let's look at where the lightning hits the merry-go-round with most "business lunches..."
· You don't start out with an agenda. What you have done is effectively block out time to waste time. When you sit down, you need to have a mental list of the things that you wish to accomplish with the meeting, not just "catching up." This isn't gossip time, this is a time to work on business.
· You spend too much time in the "friend zone." If you know the person that you are meeting with and can ask about the family, the kids, the vacation, and so on, then certainly do that. You aren't a robot. Too many times, though, an hour-long meeting descends into 45 minutes of idle chatter and a mad rush towards whatever the business topic you need to discuss, followed by the inevitable need to schedule more time at some point in the future. Give yourself 20 minutes to chat, then get to work on the business subjects you have to cover.
· Most people view coffee and lunch as personal time, not deal-making time. Unless the person you're meeting understands that this is a working lunch, then they may not even think that this is a serious business conversation. You, on the other hand, may be walking into the meeting planning (poorly) to try to close a deal. If you are truly dedicated to growing your business, then you need to make sure that both of you have the same expectations, or else you're just wasting time.
· How long is it going to take? Be honest, if your pitch is 90 minutes and you only have 60 set aside for a business lunch or a cup of coffee, there is no way that you can give an honest representation of your company or products. You're lying to yourself and wasting your own time as well as that of your prospect or partner. Now, this may be an ideal time to simply meet a prospect with the expectation that you'll be following up with them in the near future in a more formal sales conversation, but you have to have thought through this. (Hint - we're going to talk about this in my next article)
It may seem frivolous, but taking the time to understand how and why any meeting is going to take place is a critical part of making sure that you are not only prepared for it, but you have the correct amount of time dedicated to it and to making the most of every minute of your day as an entrepreneur.