Anyone who has met me will know that I am passionate about, and believe in the power of networking.  Anyone who read my last blog will also know that I am meticulous about planning my working week.

When I sat down at my desk the Friday before last to plan for the following week, I noted that I had three 1-2-1s in the diary, all of which had been arranged as a result of regular attendance at my fortnightly networking group.  My diary was telling me that I had 2 meetings on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday.

Now, I accept that running your own business can throw curveballs and I have, on occasion, had to re-arrange 1-2-1s if a last minute deadline has crept up on me or a new project fallen from the sky and into my lap – after all, we’re all in business to make money and look after our clients, right?  Therefore, it was wholly acceptable when I received an email around lunchtime on the Sunday from my first proposed meeting of the week, explaining that workload was heavy and time poor, and could we postpone until things had calmed down.  I replied, thanked the person for the notice given and their courtesy and thought no more of it, other than “I’ve got myself an hour back to do some work”.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning and after an early start I was about to leave the house, 15 minutes before my 1-2-1 was due to begin when I received a phone call from the person I was meant to be meeting, basically apologising, previous meetings over-running, they were running late, just about to start their 9 am meeting (this was at 9.45 am) etc etc.  Bottom line – the 1-2-1 was put off with 15 minutes to spare.

The best of the bunch was Wednesday morning where I had arranged to meet a “social media phobic” (their words, not mine!) for a 1-2-1.  I kept my side of the bargain; I drove to the agreed location (approx. 25 minutes away), ordered myself a cappuccino and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Feeling a bit “billy no mates” sitting alone in a busy café, I texted my meeting to ask if he was running late, to which a very honest text came back “sorry – totally forgot”.

Now, please  forgive me, but my experiences this past week have really made me think about planning 1-2-1s in the future, so I thought I’d share my Top 5 tips for planning 1-2-1s which I hope you find helpful.

  1. If possible, tag a 1-2-1 onto the end of a networking meeting.  That way, you’ll both be in the same venue and the 1-2-1 will become a natural continuation of your networking meeting.
  2. Don’t over-stretch yourself or your time – be realistic.  Meetings have a habit of over-running and traffic has a habit of causing delays.  Arranging several back-to-back meetings in different locations is asking for trouble and ultimately you will be letting somebody down by the end of the day – usually yourself!
  3. Plan.  Plan.  Plan.  Take time at the beginning of the week to make sure you know what commitments you have for the week ahead.   Hopefully this will avoid the “sorry – totally forgot” scenario!
  4. If you do need to postpone, give the other person as much notice as possible.  After all, they’re not running their business with the sole purpose of sitting around waiting for you all day.  Think how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of a short notice cancellation or no-show  ……
  5. Don’t arrange a 1-2-1 for the sake of it.   Yes, getting to know fellow network members is important but be mindful that we’re all busy souls and we’re not going to get to know everyone overnight.   Maybe leave it until you’ve met the person a few times at your networking meetings before diving in with a 1-2-1 request.

As someone pointed out to me on my Facebook page when I mentioned the “sorry – totally forgot” moment:  Woody Allen is quoted as saying “99% of success is just showing up.” And many self-employed people who don’t show up will be the ones wondering why they struggle to pay the bills. It isn’t rocket science.

Now – go forth and network!



Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/