She runs one of the world’s largest fashion companies and agreed to see me about working with our organization. Following my own philosophy – See “Never take a first meeting in an office” – I suggested that we meet at a local coffee shop. She pushed back, “My office is good. See you Friday at 2.” Click went the line. Silence. She was gone. I was trapped.
I followed up via email to move the meeting to ANYWHERE except her office. Didn’t work. I was doomed to meet her for the first time in her private fiefdom. She will be surrounded by interrupting staffers, ringing phones, come-hither computer screens, an imposing desk and more visual reminders that she “doesn’t have time.”
This is a rarity. 99% of my first meetings are at a restaurant or a coffee shop. In fact, this week 4 out of 5 first-time meetings with potential partners is at breakfast. It’s at this initial encounter where I meet people on a truly authentic level. It’s a critical opportunity to connect and accomplish one of the most difficult things to do in fundraising (drum roll … ) get a second meeting.
At a coffee shop you can ask how they honestly feel about their work … a treacherous question while they’re AT work. At a restaurant you can steer her focus from the daily demands of her company … an impossibility while she’s seated at ground zero. At a breakfast diner you can more naturally discuss her leisure time passions … a hurried discussion in the office.
After nearly 6000 face-to-face meetings I can say with confidence this little trick is one of the most important things you need to do as you begin a new relationship.
So, how did the meeting go with little “Miss-hang-up-the-phone”?
Where are some of your favorite first-meeting places?