One-on-One Meetings: best practices

Updated: Nov 9

How to set a meeting for best responses, be courteous during the meeting, and even make a new friend.

Because I have a connector personality, I love having one on one meetings with people....most of the time. Unfortunately, some meetings have left me feeling very disrespected and a lack of trust for the person with whom I was meeting. Demonstrate your level of professionalism and willingness to build relationships with others by following these tips for your one-on-one meetings.

1. Set the meeting

How you request a meeting might be the difference between actually connecting or not. If you are emailing, you can keep it to this simple format:

- purpose of meeting (example: let's get coffee and catch up, or may I pick your brain about XYZ topic?)

- ask them for 3 times/dates that would work within the next 2 weeks, or even send them a calendar link to schedule at their convenience

- suggest a spot or ask them their preference. My go-to method is tell the person that I live close to downtown and ask if there is somewhere halfway between us. I will also suggest a place downtown in case they want to meet closer to me.

2. Send a calendar invite

Send them a calendar invite once the meeting has been decided. This reduces the chance that they might forget about the meeting. The day of, I also like to send a quick note a couple hours before (or the previous day) to check that they are planning on meeting.

I've been accidentally stood up for meetings too many times to leave things to chance now. I remember one specific occurrence where I drove 20 minutes for a meeting and the person completely forgot to check his calendar that morning. This is why I send the quick note now as a double check in addition to the invitation.

3. Be on time!

One of the best ways to show someone that you respect them is being courteous of their time. They are spending precious minutes with you to meet, and therefore it is only polite to be there when you said you would.

4. If you are going to be late, tell them

I get it - things happen and sometimes we are a little late. If you can't be there within 3 minutes of your scheduled meeting, send them a quick email, text, or even call. Do your very best to not be more than 7 minutes late.

Once, I had a meeting scheduled with someone in a crowded coffee shop. I was looking around for her and kept checking my email and texts to see if I was missing something. It was 10 minutes after when she finally showed up, and only said "I was on the phone". No apology given, which made me feel very disrespected. The meeting only went downhill from there.

4. Virtual or phone meeting? Same thing goes!

I can't tell you how many times I've been made to wait 5-10 minutes or worse, stood up completely, on a virtual call for someone without any note telling me ahead of time. Once again, someone is taking time out of their schedule to connect with you. They may have even forgone a lunch or important client conversation to meet with you. Please be respectful.

I offered to meet with someone to give him advice on connecting in Colorado Springs. He had recently moved and expressed to me that he wanted to get engrained in the community. We set a meeting time for him to come to my office. He didn't show up and then called me half an hour AFTER the meeting time to tell me his reason. I was very annoyed but I rescheduled with him. Again, the same thing happened, except I got a call 5 minutes before the meeting this time. That was my limit! I did not reschedule another meeting.

5. Be up front about time

It's always nice to know how long you will be meeting. Someone might have an appointment to run to right after the meeting, and you can both keep each other on track. That also helps with keeping the conversation intentional. Most meetings are an hour, but sometimes they can go longer if you have the time. Personally, 45 minutes seems too short, but that might work for others. It depends on the nature of your meeting as well.

5. Be present

This means putting your phone and computer away, as well as not answering calls, texts, etc. Give the person your full attention. Ask good questions and learn about how you can help them build their network.

Tip: i get really engrossed in the conversation and forget to check the time. I will set an alarm on my cell 10 minutes before I need to leave so we can wrap up our conversation. That way the phone is out of sight, but it's still alerting me when needed.

Being respectful, timely, and present during a meeting can set the stage for creating a great business relationship, or even possibly a friendship. If you realize you both enjoy a certain hobby and feel like you might be friends, it's okay to ask if they want to get together to do an activity. I've definitely made friends through networking. Use the tips above for setting a meeting to set this hang out time as well (or put time on your calendar in the meeting)

If you are looking for more tips about being better at networking, check out these blogs: