When it comes to a business meeting, it’s very important to be prepared and not waste the other party’s time, particularly if you’re the one who wants something. There’s a story told about a young man who’d been trying very hard to see a very important potential investor in his business venture. The businessman finally invited the young man to pass by his home early one morning for breakfast. The man was relaxed, in his home setting.
As they walked into the dining room, the young man spotted a picture of the man shaking hands with a famous football player.
“Sir, I see you know this great football player!” the young man remarked excitedly.
“Yes, I know him very well.”
“Wow! So you also support Man U?”
“Yes, I have supported Man U since I was a boy.”
“Sir, I’m also a Man U supporter!”
“That’s good,” said the businessman, pointing the young man to a chair. The young man asked the elder investor what it was like to meet this famous player in person. It turned out the businessman knew a lot about football, and began to talk about important games that he’d seen.
“Sir, you saw that game in person?”
“I was there.”
The conversation continued about football for the next 30 minutes as they ate a wonderful meal. The young man really enjoyed the food and felt he’d struck a good discussion with the elder man now that they’d found a common interest. They were even laughing and joking together as they shared “football talk.”
They had barely finished the meal when someone came in and whispered something to the businessman. He looked at his watch and got up suddenly.
“I’m sorry, but I need to see the President,” he said, and with that got up and left. Meeting over. The young man never got another chance to meet the investor.
Sadly, this happens to a lot of people, and often they have themselves to blame. You must be well prepared when you go to see a potential partner or investor, particularly when it’s you who requested the meeting. Know what you came for, and don’t meander away.
# “Remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation,” said the great inventor Thomas A. Edison (who patented about 1000 inventions including the historic one that led to a commercially viable incandescent light bulb!) Be well prepared. Preparation is everything.
# Don’t get sidetracked and lead the discussion into something that adds absolutely no value to what you’ve come for. Their conversation about football should have ended once they sat down, even if it was of interest to the other party. Politely lead the conversation into what you came to discuss.
# When a business meeting includes a meal, it’s best to arrive having already eaten. Choose the least complicated food on offer, and the quickest to be delivered. You did not come for food; you can eat at home.
# Get the deal done, my friend. Don’t waste time!
# Avoid those long-winded greetings, without being rude.
# Have your “best slide” with you, in case they ask for something in writing.
# Don’t give them a 50-page document. They will not read it. A “two-pager,” with numbers, will invite a more detailed submission.
# Practice and practice your presentation.
# Be relaxed. Being well prepared makes you relaxed.
Over 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin gave advice that’s probably even more relevant today: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
This piece was written by Strive Masiyiwa on his Official facebook page. Strive is the founder and executive chairman of Econet