Be a Doctor, Not a Dabbler: The Best Way to Approach One-on-One Meetings
If building business relationships is important to you, then you likely will find that one-on-one meetings with potential referral partners, prospects, and other business owners is an essential part of that process. The interesting thing is that many times people waste these opportunities for partnerships and support by spending the entire time trying to sell, giving an unwanted presentation, or telling the person across the table what they need to do.
These people are dabblers.
A dabbler is someone who fancies themself an expert on something (or everything) because they read a few articles or have seen something on TV that they take as the truth. Dabblers tend to not listen to reason when you try and explain that there may be other points of view. They usually believe that what they read or what they saw must be true for everyone and therefore should be true for you. In short, in a one-on-one meeting with someone, you do NOT want to be a dabbler.
You want to be a doctor.
A doctor has taken the time to study the kinds of pain you’re experiencing and asks questions so that they can make a diagnosis just for you. Put into a business perspective, a doctor is an expert in their field who asks their client about the challenges they are experiencing and LISTENS to what they have to say before offering anything. When you meet with someone one-on-one for the first time, you don’t know yet if the service you have is one that they need or that their friends need. You also don’t know what their opinions are on any company or product. Ask questions and listen to the other person’s story and you will start to form a picture of this person’s strengths and weaknesses/likes and dislikes that will help you to steer the conversation in a way that could lead to mutually beneficial business or partnerships.
I once sat in a meeting where the person on the other side of the table spent the entire time bad mouthing a company and promoting how the people he worked with were better service providers. I politely listened but at the end I would not do business with him because the founder of the company he was slamming is actually my friend. Had he asked about my connections with or awareness of the company first, he may not have been so free with his commentary and perhaps we could have had a much deeper conversation that might have led to the next conversation or doing business together. This is the danger in being a dabbler. The second you think you have the answer to someone’s problem before at least asking them baseline questions, you have just put yourself in a losing position.
So, the next time you sit down for a one-on-one meeting with someone, ask yourself if you are being a doctor or a dabbler. Have you asked enough questions? Are you clear on what the person on the other side of the table actually wants? If not, take the time to find out.
The person you’re meeting with will feel more respected and that’s a great feeling to leave any meeting with.