Not all networking happens at events. Some of the most effective networking you can do happens over coffee meetings. 1-2-1 meetings give you a chance to really connect without the distractions of being in a big crowd.

Here are five tips to make your 1-2-1 networking even more effective:

Always have a point to the meeting

A 1-2-1 networking meeting is more likely to be effective if it’s clear why it’s happening. Are you looking for a mentor, or a new referral? Has the person been recommended to you? Maybe you’re new in town and looking to connect with peers.  

If it’s a get-to-know-you meeting, it’s okay to talk about common interests like books, movies, or sports. In the first meeting you are beginning the process of building a business relationship.

Be picky but approachable

Do your research and identify leaders that you really want to connect with. Be clear about where you want to be in a year, five years’ time and seek out the people who can help you get there. Part of the point of networking is not just the people you meet, but the people they know who can help you grow your own network.

Don’t automatically exclude people that ask you for a 1-2-1 that you don’t think will fit your needs immediately. They’re possibly wanting to do the same as you and network with people that could help them.

Always think of how you can help them

A networking meeting isn’t just about what you can get out of the other person – there has to be a benefit for both parties. Think about what you can help them with. What are your special skills or connections? Do you have acquaintances or experiences in common? Do some background research so you know where they’re from, and what their business and big projects have been.

Respect their time

Your 1-2-1 meeting partner has made time for you in their day. Be respectful of that and don’t be late!. Try not to hog the conversation, and make sure the meeting doesn’t go over time, unless the other person is keen to keep talking. Give them your business card, but don’t do it until the close of the meeting.

Follow up

If you committed to something, remember to follow up and do what you said you would do. You want this first 1-2-1 to set the tone for a future meaningful business relationship. If it feels appropriate you could connect on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Ready to start arranging 1-2-1s with potential referral partners? 

Visit BNIWestTexas.com to find a BNI Chapter in West & South-Central Texas near you.