Despite the world becoming more accessible because of the internet and improved telecommunications, face-to-face encounters in business are still considered highly valuable. Yet while the majority of business meetings are productive, there are times when business meetings are a waste of your time.
What a business meeting should deliver
There will be times when a business meeting is undertaken simply to make a new contact and the value of these should not be underestimated. Other good reasons for attending a business meeting are to generate sales leads, provide more information about your goods or services and discuss upcoming or in-progress projects. Business meetings should rarely be an excuse for having a decent cup of coffee and a slice of cake in a café, because, let’s face it, that’s not a business meeting, it’s a social event, so let’s examine the business meetings that are not worth the effort.
Flimsy connections from associates
If you are a dedicated networker, it is likely one of your associates will declare they have a friend or acquaintance who you should meet because they think you two would get along. While getting along well is entirely possible, it is probable that such a meeting will not generate anything of use to your business, such as a sales lead. Whilst it is never a good idea to say No to a new contact, you need to ask yourself whether meeting this person is worth an hour or two of your time. Rather than a face-to-face meeting, get them on the telephone or on a video call, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, and have a ten-minute chat. This should help you determine whether a meeting would be productive.
Part of networking is being of assistance to your fellow networkers, but there is a limit to the amount of advice and help you should give. If the advice you are giving is something you offer as part of your business, you could be losing money. In the early stages of your business, sharing in this way, providing it is reciprocated, could help you learn valuable lessons, but as you become more successful and your time more valuable, you should avoid business meetings where your companion simply wants to pick your brains. Offer instead a telephone conversation that you can easily terminate should you begin to think the person on the other end is taking advantage of your good nature.
The frequent canceller
Business meetings are sometimes scheduled with the best of intentions, but events happen that make it necessary to cancel. A cancelled meeting can be especially annoying if it close to when the meeting was scheduled, such as less than 30 minutes beforehand. If this happens once, it can be forgiven, but if your intended meeting is with someone who regularly cancels and gives only short notice, it is a red flag that they lack consideration for you and your valuable time, and should be avoided. If they suggest meeting up, say you cannot count on them to keep the appointment. If they really want to talk, use the telephone or make a video call.
Blind date meeting
The last business meeting that will probably prove to be a waste of time is the introduction from a friend. This usually arrives in the form of an unsolicited email from the friend saying they have arranged, or are asking if you would like them to arrange, a meeting with a friend of theirs without telling you the reason why. Your friend could have a very good reason for making the introduction, such as it being part of the reciprocity expected from networking or for wanting to appear to have a wide network of contacts to call upon, but the chances are that a blind date meeting of this kind will not deliver any benefit to you. As before, do not pass on the opportunity to make a new connection, but do not spend any of your valuable time meeting as a favour for a friend. Instead, offer the ten-minute phone call as already discussed.
Your time is valuable and you could be making a lucrative sale instead of having a business meeting that fails to deliver any business. Learn to distinguish between the meetings that are productive and the ones that fail to deliver results.
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