How to get meetings with people too busy to see you: do your homework!

foor-in-door

Steve Blank is one of the top educators of entrepreneurs in the U.S. if you don’t know his works you should. Start with his web site, move on to his books.

This article on Medium by Steve addresses one of the most common challenges founders and their directors of bus dev face: getting meetings with people too busy to see them. (And if you aren’t familiar with Medium, it’s a wellspring of great articles by founders and technologists like Steve Blank.)

I’ve tried to teach my mentees that when it comes to getting meetings you should think about what’s in it for the person you ware meeting with, not just what’s in it for you. In fact, I consider that a cornerstone not just of bus dev, but of business in general. But Steve refines this principle into one that’s more operational and more focused:

Steve filters the hundreds of meeting requests he gets from former students, entrepreneurs, and others with this rule:

who is offering to teach me something I don’t know.

This offer of teaching me something changes the agenda of the meeting from a one-way, you’re learning from me, to a two-way, we’re learning from each other.

It has another interesting consequence for those who are asking for the meeting — it forces them to think about what is it they know and what is it they have learned — and whether they can explain it to others in a way that’s both coherent and compelling.

The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, “I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.

Of course, offering to teach someone something they don’t know requires you to do your homework: what is that they know? What is it they would be interested in learning about? Studytheir LinkedIn profile, their bio on their web site or on Wikipedia, talk to other people who know them, read their blog or posts on Twitter or Medium: do your homework! Bill Belichick,  Coach of the New England Patriots preaches to his team: “Do Your Job!”
I preach to entrepreneurs getting ready for meetings or presentations of any kind:
Do Your HomeWork! You can think of this as Bayle’s corollary to Blank’s law of getting a meeting with people to busy to seeyou.

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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