That business lunch you had today, what was your return on investment?
What’s the investment? Well, there’s the tab, time to arrange the meeting and time away from work (productivity cost).
If you have not adequately prepared for this business meal your ROI will likely be flimsy, at best. Maybe you’ll add a new contact to LinkedIn. Or maybe, just maybe, your lunch guest will like you enough to refer some business to you.
Or there’s the most likely scenario, you enjoy your meal, shake hands, add a new business card to your collection and lose contact–and momentum.
So how do you avoid writing off between $150-$1000 (depending on the value of your time)? Careful planning and strategic execution.
What does this entail?
1) Being thoughtful about your lunch guest invitee list. Have you researched this person? Do you have friends, contacts, colleagues or clients in common? Is this person a skilled connector in the community or maybe someone from whom you can learn?
2) What is your projected outcome? HINT: DO NOT EXPECT A CLIENT REFERRAL. Instead, focus on how you can be of value to your guest. Ask them thoughtful questions, learn about their challenges and successes, walk away from the table confident that your guest understands your personal brand and the value you can bring to them. If you have not structured the outline of the conversation prior to the meeting, you will have wasted an opportunity.
3) Have an “FU” strategy…FOLLOW UP, that is. Reach out to your guest in a timely fashion to thank them for their time, mentioning details from the conversation, delivering on commitments made during the lunch and suggesting next steps. Then, mark your calendar for a time in the not so distant future to reach back out for the next step in cultivating the relationship.
4) Measure your success. Keep track of who you are lunching with, how you met them, what you talked about and where the conversation is leading. Business development success is not necessarily about measuring revenue, it is more about establishing metrics around the steps taken to generate the revenue.
If you follow the basics listed above, your $150-$1000 investment in a new business card to throw in your drawer will turn into many times that…and will continue to pay dividends indefinitely.