I should probably do a better job of controlling my meeting schedule. I don’t and as a result end up with too many ‘networking’ meetings (i.e., where I’m on the receiving end of the networking).
I have two observations about these interactions:
1) Left to their own devices, people tend to ramble . . . ramble . . . ramble. The conversation lacks focus, direction and purpose. Sometimes this is fun; most of the time it’s a waste of time. 2) Most people don’t seem to know what they want to get out of meetings like these. This clearly contributes to the rambling – there’s no focus because there’s no clear end point or goal. To speed things along a bit, I’ve been starting these meetings of late with a simple question: “What do you want to get out of this meeting” Turns out this isn’t something that most people come prepared to answer, which I think explains why I was encountering the two problems described above and reinforces the need to start meetings this way.
I’m starting more and more meetings with this question (or the answer to it if I’m the one initiating the interaction) – not to be callous, but to get things started with an outcome in mind. Plenty has been written about how to make meetings more efficient, but for me, other than skipping them altogether (which tends to make them much more efficient – at least for me), this has worked better than just about anything I’ve tried to speed things along. Especially those pesky “networking” introductions . . . This post reminds me of my Networking 101 post from last year. Worth taking a look at if you haven’t read it yet. See point 3 for another description of what I’m talking about here.