Over the last few weeks, I have been giving greater thought to how people perceive our firm after a first meeting. And this is happening because during that same timeframe, I've had two very different experiences with companies I have met with. And that made me think more about my personal interactions with people that meet me or my partners. I thought I'd share my experiences here from those 2 meetings hoping you and I can learn something from this as well.
To set this up properly, it is important to mention that:
1. Our firm could be a customer for both companies I talk about.
2. Both execs I spoke with are very influential in their organizations.
3. They both operate in a very competitive business (not against each other).
4. What they sell is not important.
5. I received a very warm intro to each person.
Here is a brief description of how each meeting went along with my reaction to each:
What happened: I met him at his office. He personally came up, made me feel welcome and like he was really excited I was there. Warm smiles, great handshake. He seemed very polished, interested in our firm and in return, I was sincerely interested in what he is doing too. I promised him a 30 minute meeting. The meeting did not seem rushed, but was focused. He didn't stare at his watch or work on his blackberry. I ended the meeting after 30 minutes. He followed up afterwards with a very positive note and some other things to be helpful.
My reaction: I felt good about him and his company while walking out his door. I know I will refer them business. He seemed very genuine, has a strong reputation in the makret and I know if I referred someone there, I am completely confident, they would be in great hands. If he asked me for help going forward, I would do it.
What happened: Again, I promised this individual 30 minutes. (Btw, I like 30 minute meetings sometimes because they get everyone very focused.) All during the call he seemed rushed and really not caring about most of what I had to say. He jumped to conclusions on some topics without letting me finish and before really understanding it. I could hear him typing. He wasn't engaged. In fact, I felt like he couldn't wait to hang up the phone with me. The call (with my suggestion) ended quickly. I left the call thinking this guy was a prick.
My reaction: Not sure how he will treat people I refer to him. Will they be treated similarly?
Okay, I am not leaving this post just bashing some guy I spoke with. Instead, I want to relate this directly to me and our firm. At SCV, we take a lot of calls and meetings. We are constantly meeting new people and we love that. It is our choice to acccept these meetings, put them in our calendars and show up! But just showing up as "Meeting #2" did above, is not good enough. Our reputation continues to be built on passion. We hope people that meet us, see and recognize our passion and excitement for being in the VC business. We want to leave a favorable impression and hope more people want to work with us or at least want to get to know us better. We can never have enough friends. Never.
Of course, as you read this, I hope you realize that your time is also important. If you decide that a meeting is important enough to schedule, put some effort into it and get something out of the conversation. You committed to the meeting already and are investing your time. Will the 30 minutes be positive or negative for you and for your guest? It is your choice. How you act in could stick around for a long time. And people talk. If you don't want to be there, be respectful and cancel the meeting saving the person you are meeting the time/energy.