One of the great things about having a successful business is having the opportunity to assist others. I love to do this, but I can only do so much because of my limited availability. I’d love to help everyone, but I can’t. This weekend I counted the mentorship and meeting requests I’ve gotten this year. I stopped counting at 178. This was 41 days into this year. Needless to say, I get a lot of requests, so I have to screen them. Many of them don’t get looked at because the initial approach is wrong. So, to help you increase your chances of landing meetings with busy entrepreneurs, I’m going to explain to you where you are going wrong.
1. Approaching me like a friend and not a professional: I’m friendly. I genuinely like people. I’m approachable and I’ll help anyone I can. But I’m also a businessman and a professional. If we don’t have a personal relationship, don’t approach me like we’re friends. Approach me like a professional you’ve never met. Introduce yourself and tell me what you are looking for. Be clear, concise and to the point. This counts for emails as well as in person. If I’m not your friend, I don’t really know you. So leave an impression of professionalism, character and integrity.
2. Have your stuff together: There is no other way to say it. Emailing or contacting me on Facebook and telling me you want to meet with me to talk about business isn’t telling me anything. I need to know what business you need to discuss with me. When I get a “let’s get together and talk business” line, usually someone is trying to get me involved in their MLM business. I am not interested in that AT ALL. Have your plan in place. I don’t meet just to fill my calendar. If you can’t tell me why you want to meet, I’ll take it as you’re trying to make a sales call, and I’ll respectfully decline.
3. Don’t ask to pick my brain: That is just a sly way of asking for consulting advice. I consult on branding, leadership and image for a number of companies, but that is provided service. That’s not something for a casual meeting. Though at times, I will try to help someone in need, but they tend to be people that are actively taking steps, not still in the dreaming stage. I don’t have the time to plan your business for you, or to work you through the process as I currently mentor 16 people across the globe. There are books, webinars, courses and a number of other avenues to guide you through the planning stage. Or, you can hire a consultant. If you see me out and have a quick question, I have no problem with that. But please don’t be so disrespectful of my time, to just want to sit and “pick my brain” for my intellect and experience, then just walk off like you were hanging out with your friends. I know that may not be what you were trying to convey, but it’s what it’s perceived as.
4. Dress Appropriately: I am a professional. If you meet with me, I expect you to take yourself seriously enough to dress for the meeting. A suit is not required, but it is appreciated. If you meet me in slacks and a golf shirt, there’s a good chance we won’t meet again, and a better chance that we won’t do business together. If putting on proper attire is too much work for you, then you’re not as serious about your success as you’ve convinced yourself you are. I want to work with the best. Perception is everything. What you call casual, I call lazy. And I will respond accordingly.
5. Don’t make me do a lot of work: Don’t ask me to read a lot of emails, look at a bunch of websites, and inundate me with random Facebook messages. You will get on my nerves. And even if I was interested, I will lose interest; especially with media and publications. If you want to interview me, tell me about your media outlet and request an interview time and date. But if you expect me to buy an ad in order for you to interview me, save your time and energy as that is the ultimate insult. You’re basically saying, “Even though I have a magazine that features people; you’re not interesting enough for me to feature. But if you give me money, I’ll write one about you.” That’s not journalism, that’s journalistic prostitution. I’m not desperate for media attention. And to me, it speaks to a lack of brand integrity. If you sell features for money, just say so. Don’t sneak it into a conversation.
6. Don’t bait and switch: I get this a lot with insurance and finance people. I’ve had my same financial guy for years. I’m not interested in new financial services; on any level. But, if I were looking for a financial person, I would use one that is doing business with me. I believe in loyalty and scratching each other’s backs. But one thing I ABSOLUTELY HATE is when financial people schedule a meeting with me, under the auspice of looking at suits, then break out a prospectus and start trying to pitch your services to me. You just lied to me AND tried to manipulate me. If I can’t trust you to schedule a meeting with decency, why on earth would I trust you with my money? I won’t.
I hope these tips help you to get meetings in the future, and allow you to see how your approach may be perceived. Some of you will accept it, some of you won’t. That’s your choice. I’m just telling you how it looks from my side. Until next time…..
God Bless and dress well.
William Wilson, CEO
William Wilson Clothing.