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Be Prepared, Part II

Way back in the winter of 2013, when we were all complaining about how cold it was, I wrote a post about the importance of being prepared. Given the abundance of information now available online, I suggested that there is no excuse for showing up at a networking meeting without doing at least some research beforehand. If you get some clues about someone's interests, background, concerns, needs or point-of-view, conversation is more likely to flow over coffee or lunch. You are more likely to find common ground and you are more likely to connect. Google, website bios, LinkedIn and other social media tools can all provide you with good information that can help the conversation flow.

Winging it may be tempting ("I'm smart and I have good social skills. Why do I need to prepare?"). But even the smartest and most socially gifted professional can learn a lot by taking 10 minutes to do a little homework before heading off to meet a potential client or referral source.

Snow seems like a distant memory as we suffer through one of the hottest summers on record in the Northeast. But as we approach the fall, I thought it was worth revisiting the topic as August is a good time to create some networking momentum (contact people now and if vacation schedules prevent you from getting together, then at least you'll be able to get on their dance card in early September -- although you may be surprised that people who are around may not be as busy).

I'm revisiting this subject because I think it is an important one. But in writing my last post,  I neglected to include an important piece of advice about gathering intel on your prospects. If the person you are going to meet was introduced by a mutual contact, spend a few minutes talking to that contact and learn what you can about the individual. Sometimes a brief telephone conversation can provide as much (if not more) information about an individual than what you could find on-line. The fact that John Smith vacations on the Cape, likes biking, has children that are the same age as your children or is looking to be introduced to investors, may be very helpful in opening up a conversation with John. But this may not be information that could have been learned through Google.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published August 1, 2013

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