It’s easy for us to rush from meeting to meeting, especially when working virtually. Join a Zoom meeting, have a quick discussion with clients and prospects, and exit the call 5 minutes before the next scheduled one. But what's the trade-off here? What are the downsides of this more productive way to meet?
One of the biggest dangers is that we miss what’s going on with the people we’re working with. What matters most to them right now? What are they personally excited or concerned about?
We focus on moving opportunities forward but forget about nurturing the relationships that made them happen.
That's why I keep a small post-it by my desk saying, "Choose curiosity over efficiency." The price you pay for a laser-focused meeting is ignoring the ever-changing context. The more you explore, the more information you can use to better help people and create a bigger impact.
Every consultant would benefit from carving out 5 minutes between small talk and specific agenda points to find out what’s going on and increase intimacy with the people you’re working with. This can be simple:
“Before we get into X, it would be great to hear how things are going for you - any changes since we last spoke, in terms of priorities and challenges?”
The conversation doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to be meaningful. You may feel that you’re being intrusive, but when you ask these questions with a genuine interest they are almost always well received. We're all humans after all.
One consulting partner told me doing this “has completely changed my work.” She developed deeper relationships, found larger and more visible projects for her firm, and was able to strengthen her professional network as a whole.
Give it a try in your next meeting.