The Blizzard of 2013 reminds us to be prepared

It has a been a difficult week for anyone trying to get around Massachusetts by car. Two to three feet of snow can do a lot to clog up side streets and even if you were able to get to your destination, parking has been a challenge.  But imagine how much worse things might have been if the state of Massachusetts and the 351 cities and towns of the commonwealth had done nothing to prepare.

Now imagine that you have a three-day trial scheduled and you have done nothing to prepare. You would probably have a very unhappy client at best, and at worst, you might be jeopardizing your law license or risking a big malpractice suit. Not a good idea.

So  what about meeting a potential client or referral source for coffee? Why not just wing it?

Certainly, preparing for a networking meeting does not require the same effort as preparing for a blizzard or a three-day trial. But you would be making a big mistake if you thought that meeting someone for coffee requires no preparation.

The best rainmakers will never try to "wing it." They know that person to person marketing can be highly effective; but it can be very time consuming. So you better make the best of it and making the best of it means trying to find out what you can in advance (not like a stalker, but as someone who is "prepared").

Websites, on-line profiles and social media mean that being in the dark is inexcusable. If there is something that you could have known about the person and their business, then not knowing that thing is inexcusable. More importantly, taking a few minutes to research someone before you go meet with them greatly increases the likelihood that you will find a meaningful way to connect.

A few weeks ago, I was driving my son, a high school senior, to a college interview. I asked him who he was meeting and what he knows about the person. Like a typical teenager, he only knew the person's name and not much more.

I glared at him as I continued driving and demanded that he get out his smart phone. Within a few clicks, he found out that although the individual was a research scientist at a major medical school, that he had studied music as an undergraduate. My son, not really the science type, is a trombone player and as they say, the rest is history (although from what I'm told, college interviews have little bearing on college admissions.)

So take the time to do a little research before you leave your office. You may get some clues about ways that you can be of help to the individual and you may find that your networking meetings are a lot more interesting because there is more to discuss.

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

Published February 14, 2013


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