When you meet a prospective client or vendor for the first time in person, do you jump right into talking business?

Or perhaps you briefly make small talk about the weather or the traffic and then immediately dive in?

It’s a safe bet, I’m willing to say, that more men than women are shaking their head in the affirmative and saying, “Of course, what else would I do?”

Just like we all know that we’re supposed to show our personality on our social media platforms, I’d like to offer a reminder to let some of your personal self shine through when meeting in person with potential and new clients and vendors.

Few female professionals I know need this prodding. Many men I’ve met, on the other hand, could learn to reveal a little bit of themselves and get to know somewhat of the backstory to their business contacts. Business men talking 1


We all know the anecdotal story of the husband and wife driving home after spending an evening with another couple. They compare notes about what they learned from the same-sex member of the other couple. The man learned that his friend recently went to a ballgame. The woman, meanwhile, learned that the couple is having financial troubles, their kid is flunking two subjects, and the cat is having bladder issues.

Most definitely these aren’t the topics that you want to share with new business contacts. But those contacts do want to know a little bit about the person with whom they’re going to work — beyond what you have printed on your business card.

Social media is helping to break the ice. If you follow someone on Twitter, Facebook or any number of other platforms, you likely will have some insight into what is important to that person prior to your first meeting.

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I was reminded of this one day this week during a most enjoyable coffee meeting with a new contact. Through social media, I already knew he rides his bike early in the morning before work.

That entree into conversation — plus this man seems by nature to be an open people-person anyway — instantly put us at ease and laid the foundation for what I expect will be a valuable connection.

So remember, business is about people. Know the people with whom you’re going to do business. However, do leave out the cat’s bladder issues.

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