Meeting with busy people

Soon after moving to San Francisco, I got a meeting with a great investor. I was new to the tech world and he was nice enough to make time to meet. He asked me a few times:

“How could I help?”
I started noticing a theme. A lot of other people that I met would ask that question as well.  Considering how high profile some of these people are, the generosity of time was really surprising. But, when I think about it more, while it’s true that they were willing to help, they were also asking: 
"Why did you ask me to meet?"
The why is important. These are extremely busy people. Many run their own companies or are investors, busy with their funds. They’re happy to meet, but want to meet for a specific reason. They don't have time to just hang out with everyone that reaches out. Here are some things to think about when you're getting a meeting:
1. Think about why you want to meet before getting an introduction.

2. Explain why you want to meet in the introduction. 

3. Create a list of questions you’d like to ask before the meeting. 

4. When you start the meeting, reaffirm why you asked to meet. 

5. Stay focused. There's an infinite number of things you could talk about; if you try to discuss it all, you'll both come away confused.

6. Know that building a good relationship is more important than any question you might ask. 

7. When you hit the allotted time, which is usually a half hour or an hour, say you want to be sensitive of their time and bring the meeting to a close. 
There's a great upside to using their time well: they’ll be willing to meet with you again. 
22 responses
Leo Polovets upvoted this post.
This is so true Joseph. The "let's just grab coffee" for the sake of drinking coffee philosophy doesn't make a whole lot of cents. Ian
Agreed. I once asked an investor how he handles all his meeting requests. He said he always replies, “what would you like to meet about?” That filters out most of the people who don’t know why they’re reaching out and gives him better context for the people he'd like to meet. Ideally, the requester would just explain why he / she wants to meet in the first email.
Garry Tan upvoted this post.
Allan Grant upvoted this post.
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