• Forrest Blake

Strategies for the Best One-on-One Meeting

Updated: Oct 11, 2018


In an age where everyone is glued to their cell phones and computers, there is real value in one-on-one meetings. The foundation for building a strong relationship begins with an in-person meeting.

In every professional’s career there comes a time when they must start networking and bringing in new business. This usually involves going to breakfast, lunch, or cocktails with a potential business source. I call this a one-on-one. The following is dedicated to making these lunches fun, easy, and rewarding.

Who To Meet With

This takes some planning. The first step is to identify your targets. This could be in your contact management software, LinkedIn, or that stack of cards that have been sitting on your desk for the last year. In fact, one-on-one networking can be even more productive for building a relationship and generating a quality client base.

Start by identifying people you want to meet with. If you don’t have a lot of experience, begin with friends, family, and people you know well. These contacts are more likely to help by sharing information. Practicing with them will build your confidence and prepare you for higher-stake conversations with people who don't know you as well. The goal is to meet with people who have the most clients that look like your client. This will result in an active exchange of common relationships and opportunities.

Having a meeting pipeline will become very important. A rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 20 people who you have an active request for a one-on-one at any time.

The next step is to send an invitation to meet. It is good to have several meeting dates over the next few weeks. You will want to have some immediacy of action. I like to use a calendar link to make it very easy for them to schedule. I currently use Calendly. You can find out more at www.calendly.com.

Sample Email 1

I would like to schedule a time for breakfast or lunch with you. Please let me know if you have an hour in the next few weeks. You are welcome to click on my Calendar and pick a time and date that works for you. I look forward to our meeting.

Sample Email 2

It’s a busy January, I’m sure you probably missed my first email. We are connected on LinkedIn and I would like to schedule a time for breakfast or lunch with you to further our business connection.

How is it going at ABC Company? I’m with NAI Capital as a commercial real estate broker and I also own Highrise Networks. It seems likely we will have some opportunities together.

You are welcome to click on my Calendar and pick a time and date that works for you.

I look forward to our meeting.

Sample Email 3

You must be busy and missed my emails. No worries.

Thanks for being a connection on LinkedIn. It would be great to go from the digital world to a real live conversation. In a quick call, you can fill me in on ABC Company. Also, who you are looking to meet to grow your business. Here is a link to my LinkedIn profile.

You are welcome to click on my Calendar and pick a time and date that works for you.

I look forward to our meeting.

How Do You Want the Chapter to End

When I wrote my three novels, every chapter started with the conclusion in mind. Based on the characters, scenarios, environment, and desires, what is the possible conclusion? In this situation, you are the writer. What conclusion would make this interaction worthwhile?

  • Finding a piece of business for them.

  • Getting an introduction to their boss, client, LinkedIn connection, or referral source.

  • Invitation to their non-profit, networking or company event.

  • Co-authoring an article.

  • Doing a collective event to invite your best clients.

  • Marketing their webinar to your database.

  • Socializing in the future. Playing golf, running, sharing a nice scotch or some other fun activity.

Getting Ready to Meet

This may be the most important part of the process. If you take 15 minutes, you will increase your likelihood of finding a new piece of business for both of you by 4X.

You can find out much more information than just their website bio. You can review their previous employers, who are your common connections, what non-profits are they involved in, and likely their personal interests.

I like to use LinkedIn to find our mutual connections. Clicking on our connections shows a list of people we have in common. It is a great conversation starter, “Do you know Mike Jones?”

Ask Questions

When you go to a one-on-one meeting you want to come with the excitement of finding out interesting things about the person you are meeting. A strong curiosity will create the right mindset for questions and active listening.

One or two open-ended question can make for a great conversation. Once you ask the question, be generally interested in finding out more. You should ask how that made them feel, what do you mean, tell me more about that and how do you think you are going to move forward.

Here are some questions that might get you started.

1. What is your best source of business?

2. Who do you find can provide you the best business referrals?

3. How often do you go in the office?

4. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

5. What do you like about your job?

6. What is the key to being successful in your current position?

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

8. What would be a perfect day for you?

9. What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

10. What is the culture like at your company?

11. What do you like most about your company?

12. What is your competitive differentiator?

13. What is job growth like at your company?

14. Are you involved in any organizations? What do you like about that one?

15. How can I help you?

The Wrap Up

For some reason, at the end of each one-on-one, we feel like we were just thrown back to the end of that uncomfortable first date. Seasoned professionals become awkward and don’t know what the next steps are.

Keep an eye on the clock. Around 15 minutes before your time is up, ask them what you can do for them. Really pay attention and try to help them. Once you've given them their turn, and knowing you had the desired outcome for this interaction, now it is time for your “ask.”

When the bill comes. Pick it up and pay the bill. When the other party objects, take out a business card and write on the card, “You owe me lunch.” Then ask them to place it in their wallet so neither of you will forget. They will carry that business card until you two get together again. This might be the best advertising you will ever get.

Also, giving a gift can leave a lasting impression. I always bring a copy of my book, “Rich Landlord Poor Tenant.” My expectation is the book will sit on their desk for the next month and this will build mindshare for my product and service.


Follow-up with a thank you note. Handwritten notes are a nice touch, but at the very least, send a thank you email to your new contact after the lunch. Confirm what you learned about his or her specialty/area of knowledge in the email. This will show that you listened and understood what he or she had to say. You can then take this information and insert it into your CRM for future reference.

Do whatever you told them you were going to do. Nothing will make you lose points faster than failing to do something you said you would do during your lunch.

Most people tend to have one lunch with many people in a row and fail to follow up with any of them. No matter how much someone likes you, if they never hear from you again, they will forget you. Mark on your calendar to keep in touch. If you reach out with a call or email, you’ll show that your new contact is important.

Highrise Networks, Inc.

800 S. Figueroa, Suite 925

Los Angeles, CA 90017



(213) 712-9080