How to make the most of your 121’s

How to make the most of your 121’s

Category: Networking

How to make the most of your 121’s

Pre-Covid, when I went networking, I aimed to meet at least 3 new connections and if I could, I’d also reacquaint myself with 2 people I’d not seen for a while. The intention was always to arrange two or three 121’s. (A 121 is just a name given to the initial meeting you have with a new acquaintance … a bit like a first date!)

With the advent of online networking it can be a little harder to decide who to meet but my goal is still two or three 121’s. When choosing who to meet with, I usually suggest a Zoom call if:

1. I think I can help them

2. I liked them and would like to understand what they do better

3. I just have a gut feeling that they are someone I want to know.

Whatever the reason you decide to meet with someone it is easy to find at the end of the meeting one of you has done most of the talking. So, here are my suggestions of how to make the most of your 121’s.

Firstly, do some preparation – find out what you can on the Internet. Google, LinkedIn and Facebook are all your friend. See who else they know, whether you have any mutual contacts or if they are linked to your ideal client.

Know what you are hoping to gain from the meeting and confirm at the start how much time you both have. Most people allocate about 30 minutes to an hour for this sort of meeting.

Assuming they have an hour, aim to talk for slightly under 30 minutes. If only 30 minutes, then slightly under 15 minutes! You may be very passionate about your business with lots to say but your time will be much better spent finding out as much as you can about them and how you can help.

As always top of mind should be

  • Do I need you?
  • Do I know someone who needs you?
  • Do I know someone who can introduce you to people who need you?

And to answer these questions you have to understand what they do and what they are looking for!

Equally, you don’t want to spend the hour only finding out about them and not telling them what you do.

So, it is important to have an agenda. It can feel uncomfortable to have a written agenda for what is essentially a chat over coffee but you can still start the meeting saying something like:

“I’ve been thinking about our meeting and would find it really useful if you could give me a ten-minute overview of what you do and what your key challenges are. Then perhaps if I do the same, we can spend the rest of our time working out what we can do to help each other. How does that sound?”

It just sets the scene with some time frames and your intention.

Make sure that anything you say you will do, you do and promptly. Your ability to do what you say now will determine how much they believe you really can deliver your service or the quality of your product.

I think a good 121 should be like a great “1st date”, leaving you keen to continue your relationship.

What do you think?