I still get amazed when people turn up to meetings without having done the most basic research before the meeting. I have created some basic reminders that might be helpful for you and your colleagues.
There is an absolute must before meeting someone for the first time—always, always check LinkedIn or similar before both internal and external meetings. Please show the people you are meeting that basic courtesy.
People do not have time to answer basic questions (to which answers are readily accessible with the most cursory search), nor do they have time to fill you in on their challenges. If you pick up the phone without gathering any background information, at best you stand to annoy the person, and at worst, to be hung up on mid-sentence. But you can be sure there’s not going to be any money exchanging hands or contracts being signed.
You might not have time to check every box on this list before a call or meeting, and that’s okay—just make sure to check at least a few. The more you can personalise your conversation to the person and their business, the greater the chance that you’ll capture their interest—and hopefully their business.
LinkedIn, Xing and other professional networks
LinkedIn is a tremendous place for research. If you can only research someone on one touchpoint before meeting them for the first time, make it LinkedIn.
Check out the full profile and focus on these areas of their profile:
- Experience at their current job: Most people list primary job duties or major projects they’ve worked on. This can help you get a sense of what falls under their jurisdiction, and what doesn’t.
- Experience at their former jobs. It’s always an advantage to be aware.
- Shared connections. If you have a connection in common with your prospect, make sure that you know. This could be a referral opportunity.
- Groups: Click through to their groups to see what’s being talked about.
- Recent activity: Take a look at what your prospect has recently shared and where.
Where is the individual present online? What kind of content and messaging has the individual been promoting, sharing and interacting with? Understanding how present and active they are can help you better understand how they are and what they stand for. Search the individual to find information about them.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
These three are more of personal touch points. Check out the individual’s profiles to pick up personal tidbits about them. Also, this is another good place to see if you have any friends or interests in common.
I hope that these basic reminders will be helpful for you and wish you good luck with your changed behaviour.