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Breaking (and Making) Bread Together

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“Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.” ~~Albert Einstein

One of the most valuable times in every networker’s week is meal time.  This is a wonderful part of every day when we can relax with someone over food and really get deeper into a relationship or strategy.  If you stop and think about how many meals we enjoy every year, the opportunity to maximize this is incredible.

Let’s look at the numbers.

We eat three meals a day every day for 365 days each year.  That is more than 1000.  Let’s back that down to weekdays only (5 days per week and go with 50 weeks for simplicity’s sake) leaving 750.  I recommend cutting that into thirds where one third is for your family, one third for yourself and non-business friends, and one-third for purposeful food encounters.  Let’s simplify the math once more and convert 250 to 20 per month.  That is basically one meal per working day.  These can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I personally prefer one dinner per week and twice as many breakfasts and lunches.  That is, four dinners and sixteen others mixed.  Some months it is twelve breakfasts and four lunches.  Some months it is the reverse.

What is a purposeful food encounter?  It is a planned event with just a few select people.  They typically include 2-4 people and fall into one of these patterns:  one-to-one, one-to-two, or two-to-two.

One-to-one sessions are level one sessions with one other person to set strategy and further existing relationships.  I find it most powerful to select a single target market or single aspect of your business offer and focus on just that.  Talk about the problems your target prospects experience, what phrases or comments would indicate their experience with these issues, what solutions you can provide, what common objections they might have, and how to move the introduction along.  You should also discuss strategic alliances, good and bad referrals, and the typical cycle you encounter in this arena.  In the beginning of the process, this may be the only type of session you do and twenty or even forty of these purposeful meetings carry strong results. As well as setting the stage for the next level up.

Level two meetings are when the actual introductions are done.  These are usually three or four people together and put either the strategic alliance partners together or the problem holders and problem solvers.  This is to establish a new relationship by bridging the gap between these two parties using an existing relationship to introduce a new one.

Think of this as a triangle.  Let’s set the stage.  We have Matt Plastic who represents a credit card company that works very well with the restaurant industry.  As you may recall we considered that in Week Three Find the Perfect Customer.  Matt has a very good friend named Mary Shields, who is a Commercial Insurance Agent.  Mary’s friend, Wolf Davis, runs a restaurant and is a client.  Matt and Mary got together in an earlier meal meeting and Matt talked about how he helped restaurant owners.  Mary looked through her client list and arranged a meeting with Wolf.

As you can see, this can become a very productive meal meeting.  The parties that already know each other (Matt-Mary and Mary-Wolf) strengthen their relationships regardless of whether or not Matt-Wolf clicks or not.

Your action item this week is to start having these powerful meal sessions.

  • Look over your schedule and carve out twenty slots
  • Create a short list of potential partners
  • Rank by most valuable
  • Start inviting, start meeting

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

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Written by bniguy

June 5, 2011 at 2:04 am

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