While I strongly believe in investing in professional relationships, I realize I cannot have coffee or lunch with everyone who suggests it. While I understand the importance of networking, there’s no way I can attend all of the networking events where my target market hangs out. I guess I’m not too different from any other small business owner, solo service provider, or entrepreneur, right?
The question is “How can we get fierce about how we spend our time to ensure we’re putting energy toward the right stuff?” I won’t pretend I have all the answers; certainly, there have been many books written on the subject by experts. What I will suggest is that I believe in trying new techniques to solve the issue of time management with respect to meeting and events. So far, here are two techniques I’m trying (and I welcome your suggestions!):
1. Office hours. This idea was recommended to me by the amazing @KammieK. Instead of scheduling numerous appointments on different days, I’m holding office hours in a coffee shop once a month (or more frequently as needed). Anyone who’s interested in stopping by and discussing their marketing issues is welcome. And, if we draw a crowd at a given time, we can leverage the collective brainpower. I like this approach because in the best places I have worked, we had an understanding that we didn’t have meetings just to meet. There was an agenda and a purpose for everything. Rather than (awkwardly) demand an agenda, I’m offering this opportunity for “get to know you” type meet-ups.
2. Shout-out on Twitter. Tonight there’s an ASBA (Arizona Small Business Association) mixer. While I am a member and I do enjoy these meet-ups, I really want to leave such an event with some prequalified business prospects. I’ll admit I’m not much of a salesperson. And really the best evidence I can provide of the value of my marketing services is via a conversation about a small business owner’s particular challenges and opportunities. Hard to do in a social setting and oftentimes people want a separate meeting for that (see #1 above). So, I tried putting the feelers out on Twitter by asking: “Anyone going to @the_asba mixer tonight & want to talk #smallbiz marketing opportunities? DM me & I’ll make it there! #phoenix”
I guess I can’t be any more fierce about my time, huh? I’ll show up IF it is going to make sense for my business. I need a commitment (and permission!) to conduct that type of “deeper dive” with someone about their marketing issues in such a forum. I don’t want to be too intrusive, after all, and I’d rather have a “mini-appointment”–much easier to break the ice that way.
I’ll be sure to let you know how these trial runs work out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback and learn what you’ve found helps you tame your precious time. You can also find me on Twitter and use this link to share the post: http://tinyurl.com/tdatimemgmt1