OK, for the past couple of days we've talked about some good locations for one-to-ones. We've ranged from the obvious (the coffee shop) to the less so (the grocery store?). Now let's look at some other options that might not be the best choice.
- Golfing. Now, I know a lot of people network on the golf course. If your target market or contact sphere tend to frequent these spots, then, of course, you'd better get your clubs and head out to the driving range for some practice. For initial one-to-ones, it may not be optimal. For many people it is expensive and very time-consuming. Personally, I would recommend a shorter, less-expensive first meeting to feel out the other person's level of interest in "a good walk spoiled".
- Airport. At one point, this would have been a perfectly acceptable location to meet people, assuming you were on a lay-over in a location where you had networking contacts. Unfortunately, the increase in security procedures since 9/11 have pretty much made this just shy of impossible. I've heard that you can request or purchase a special "ticket" which will allow you to go through security for a meeting, but obviously this is a lot of trouble to go through for lunch.
- Office. Meeting at either person's office is just a bad plan in general. When you do, you aren't meeting as equals. The person whose office it is has the upper hand and the other person is approaching as a supplicant or salesperson. Also, the person who is still at work will have a hard time being a person which will make connecting with them a lot more difficult. One-to-ones should always be done in a neutral location separate from other work day distractions.
- Bar. This is another of the clichéd locations stemming from the bad old days of networking. It doesn't really translate well to the present day. While most people don't have a problem with only a drink or two, the challenge is that just a drink or two can turn necessary vulnerability into a complete lack of inhibition. This could easily lead to an inadvertent comment that destroys a new relationship before it has a chance to start. Save the bar for events with long-time friends.
- Networking Event. I've had more than a few people suggest to meet and chat at a networking event. In my experience, this just doesn't work. Gatherings like this are full of distractions and if you are sitting at a table with six or eight other people, it's just rude to focus your attention on just the one person. For a good one-to-one, you really need at least a half hour of uninterrupted conversation in order to develop a relationship. Remember that networking events are primarily for meeting new people or briefly touching base with existing connections. If you want to have a one-to-one, skip the event and head out for coffee.
Hopefully this list of venues gives you a few new ideas to try out (and a few to avoid). Remember, though, above all else, the location isn't as important as the fact that you are getting together for the sole purpose of finding out more about each other and hopefully finding new ways to help each other succeed.
Photo credit: Shelly Elaine