Entrepreneurs spend time quizzing themselves on business particulars for their meetings with important new contacts, but often forget the human side of the interaction. However, knowing your business “ins and outs” is not enough – they must also be effectively conveyed.
Whether communicating to an important distributor or venture capitalist, entrepreneurs must be strategic about how they influence others to join their side. Meetings are not just information exchanges – they are also “relationship-building” sessions. Establishing these relationships enables your efforts to take root and make a difference for your business.
To that end, based on research and best practices, we have developed the “five C’s” of an effective meeting:
- Compelling: Tell a story to help illustrate your point. Everyone responds to a story and research has shown that stories increase message retention.
- Clarity: Be focused and clear. Often, entrepreneurs, especially those who are experts, want to share everything they know in the first meeting. This is not about impressing your audience with the breadth of your knowledge. Be restrained in what you share -summarize the high points. A great meeting will lead to follow-up discussions.
- Consistency: Do your homework on meeting participants. Connect to their interests, including past decisions or common interests.
- Conversation: Allow for dialogue. Creating an opportunity for a two-way conversation will allow for questions and clarifications, which leads to greater buy-in.
- Close: End the meeting effectively by including a direct request. Never let an opportunity pass to ask for support – for dollars or for introductions.
So as you plan your meetings with new contacts, remember it is important to start small and build a solid foundation for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
Suzanne Smith, MBA is a serial social entrepreneur and bridges many disciplines, including serving on the National Board of the Social Enterprise Alliance, coaching nonprofits as Managing Director of Social Impact Architects and Co-Founder of Flywheel: Social Enterprise Hub, and educating future leaders as Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas. She holds an MBA from Duke University, where she was a CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) Scholar and continues to serve as a Research Fellow.