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How to Get Meetings with the People You Need to Meet

Sometimes, for a given problem, there are only a handful of people who have exactly the right solution. In a networked world where information can be spread effortlessly, the problem isn’t access to information: it is the filter to what solves your problem, and what doesn’t that really matters. Finding that exact match is what proves to be the most difficult part of seeking advice.

Getting the meeting with the right person at the right time is hard, but it shouldn’t be. Dan Martell, founder of Clarity, is exactly the kind of person you want to meet, and he knows a bunch of people who you should meet as well. He knows them very well, but he’ll use his platform, where you can pay for advice by the minute, to connect with them.

It’s a behaviour pattern that’s worth noting: a meeting is worth something, whether it’s money or social capital. The old saying goes that time is money, and nowhere is that more true than when you are trying to get somebody to sit down, and come solve your problems with you.

Because of this, an invitation has to be compelling to succeed. The crucial difference between a successful invitation and one that doesn’t work is how clearly the value is spelled out for both parties.

Dan points out that in the days of old, meetings usually came easier with some kind of social, or community affiliation: if you were, for example, a Yale alumnus, it’d be a lot easier to get yourself a meeting with a Yale-graduate who happened to become a powerful politician.

It is the Internet and solutions like Dan’s Clarity that are opening up those old communities, and offering new currencies for newcomers to in turn, provide similar value to get meetings they really need. The unsolicited meeting invitation is now something seen as natural: the last thing anybody should be in this digital age is shy.

Still, the same rules for invitation response hold true. Steve Blank put it best: you have to offer someone like him something to get him to meet with you. That something doesn’t have to be tangible. It could be a diverse perspective, or a new story that both sides can learn from. The important thing is that it should be made absolutely clear why the person who is being solicited for the meeting would want to come.

There is intrinsic worth in the validation one gets for being asked for advice, but it only goes so far. Being clear about what value you bring to the table, and making the person you invite to help you feel as comfortable as you can by fitting in their schedule and favorite method of meeting: both of these tactics, combined, will get you the meetings with people you need to meet.

Dan founded his company because he needed to meet the right people. His users have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so. The right advice given at the right meeting can do that for you: you just have to know how to get it in the first place.

Roger Huang

Roger is an entrepreneur who is writing a book on the future of various fields, based on the perspectives of technologists pushing the forward forward. Catch his writings at www.code-love.com, and his musings on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning about entrepreneurship and code, join his mailing list.
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