One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life is surround myself with people smarter than me, and that have experience different from me. I frequently enjoy a cup of coffee before work, a lunch, or an after work beverage with folks who know more than I do so I can pick their brain, and ask them things I would normally pay several hundred dollars an hour for.
But I don’t go in, enjoy my beverage or meal, and go home. Oh no. That would be nice, if I had a LOT of free time. Every minute counts for me, and especially for these smart people.
Instead, I find it’s really important to prepare as well as I can for these meetings, to savor every moment I have. What follows is the preparation I do for any meeting with a mentor (or “smart person”) that I might have.
- Understand why we are meeting – What is their value to me? What is my value to them? Can I help them in any way? I ask ahead of time “Is there anything you’d like me to bring to our meeting so it can be more productive?” I also ask them to bring anything that might make it more productive for me.
- Understand and respect how much time we have - If we agree we only have 30 minutes, I respect that 30 minutes and I make sure we end on time – even if one of us is late.
- Take good notes – I bring my notebook and write down important points we discussed.
- E-mail a summary of points discussed, if there was anything particularly interesting, along with any action items we discussed and include the timeframe. This shows the other person I was paying attention, and it helps us both get done what we said we would get done, and it sparks a memory and helps us keep our promises.
- Always e-mail or Twitter a thank you (and sometimes follow-up with a handwritten thank you note), even if we discussed nothing of note. Time is scarce. Saying thanks, an authentic thanks, tells the other person I am appreciative of the resources shared.
- Mention the “next time” we can get together, if there’s more we could discuss. I keep it open-ended, because sometimes the limited time we had is all we get. If I can, I try to add value and help the other person also look forward to the next time we can connect.
Questions for you:
Do you surround yourself with other smart people?
How do you prepare for these meetings?