One of my clients (Ben) had the unfortunate experience of completely flaking on a person he was set to meet this week who could have been a great addition to his network. It wasn’t really his fault though; he was there at the time and agreed-upon meeting location (2pm); and he was actively looking for the guy (Dave). For whatever reason, they didn’t connect. Ben didn’t know what Dave looked like (surprising in this day and age), he didn’t have his phone number — Dave would only correspond via email — and because Ben was traveling outside the country, he didn’t have immediate Internet access. Ben waited at the agreed-upon meeting spot. For more than an hour he scanned the lobby and left briefly to check email for a note. Well, a note was forthcoming, but unfortunately the meeting was not meant to be — Dave left and there went my client’s opportunity to make a promising connection. Could this have been avoided? Sure. Let’s look at three ways to eliminate “missed chances.”
Be as specific as possible about a meeting spot
Ben and Dave were set to meet “in the lobby” of the Fairmont Hotel, which turned out to be a cavernous area with two bars and a café. Ben should have referenced a specific location, e.g. “the first couch by the entrance,” rather than keeping the meeting location vague.
Ensure access to some form of communication
If Ben told Dave to meet him at the hotel where Ben was staying, Ben could have checked email and quickly gotten back to Dave as to where he was waiting. Try to maintain a “home-field” advantage, so to speak, to make sure you can access electronic communication
Understand cultural and personal differences in networking
In most first-time meetings, you know what happens — when one party does not know what the other party looks like there is a game of peek-a-boo to see if one party notices the other and then boom — you know you have your person. Dave didn’t do this; instead he waited for Ben to seek him out. Dave made no attempt to find Ben. Possibly it was due to Dave’s seniority. Ben thought it might have been a cultural thing, as well.
In the end, the meeting was rescheduled. However, it is going to take a month for Ben to secure a spot on Dave’s calendar. Now Ben’s potential business opportunity is delayed and no new revenue will be immediately forthcoming. The bright spot? They did reschedule and the lesson was learned.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.