I had the most amazing three way business lunch last Friday. It was Good Friday and it was good in so many ways. I had taken the opportunity to bring together two professional women who did not know each other and who might be able to do business together in the future. Carol is the director of HR for major Insurance company (note: I am masking her full identity because we didn’t have time to get clearance from her company prior to release of this blog) and Marcia LaReau is founder and president of Forward Motion Careers.
How I met them individually
Marcia LaReau and I met at a workshop that I gave at the Simsbury Public Library a few years back. She was one of the those motivated audience members that sat near the front and engaged with questions. (a real joy for a speaker!). By some measures Marcia and I could be considered competitors; but collaborating with her and getting to know her has been a real treat for me. In my assessment she is a motivated leader and has a brilliant business mind. I learn new things every time I am with her. Once again, I am convinced that it is good business to network and collaborate with your competitors.
I originally met Carol at the Business Women’s Forum conference in Hartford, CT when I gave a workshop on networking in 2009. I saw her again in 2011 at the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame induction dinner. Carol had signed up to received my weekly networking tips via email and had been sharing them with her colleagues and friends for the past few months. (the ultimate compliment for a blogger!) Carol then invited me to meet her team and have an exploratory discussion this past December. After meeting with this dynamic, leading edge HR team, I put Carol’s company as one of my top prospects for new business development.
Why bring these two people together?
It may seem a little odd that I would introduce a potential competitor to one of my major prospective companies that I hadn’t even landed yet. The possible risk of lost business occurred to me, but I know the value of connecting people and resources together. It always pays off in the long run.
How I scheduled this three way lunch
This opportunity occurred to me after driving home from lunch with Marcia. I was thinking more about who I knew that she should get to know; and who I knew that Marcia could help. That’s when Carol’s image jumped to mind. I used voice dialing to ring Carol from my smart phone (how smart is that!). I was expecting to get her voice mail and I did. I left her a short message asking if she knew Marcia LaReau and if she didn’t, I recommended that she do so.
When I got home that afternoon, I sent Carol an email follow-up. Look how quickly opportunity materialized with this networking connection:
- March 22, 2012 -I left a voice mail message for Carol mentioning Marcia’s name and suggesting the connection
- 2 hours later – I sent an email to Carol referencing an event that we had both been to two days prior and forwarded Marcia’s contact details:
I hope you enjoyed the ywca luncheon. I am still on a high from the day’s event.
I left you a voice mail about a great lady who may be a good resource for you and your team as you develop your career management initiative for your employees. Marcia is especially interested and gifted in helping young professionals. Below are her contact details. Let me know if you want me to introduce you to her. [contact details listed]
- 20 minutes later Carol emailed me back suggesting a three way lunch
Thx. for vm and thinking of me, kathy. Am in a class this week so can’t fully respond on my bb. Would definitely like to meet marcia – in april sometime would be good – working now on selecting career system – later we will get back to other experiences for our employees – that’s where YOU fit in also. Wanna do lunch the three of us?
- 20 minutes later I coordinated my calendar with Marcia’s over email
- 60 minutes after that, I sent Carol a list of dates/time options where Marcia and I could come downtown to have lunch with her
- 3 hours later Carol confirmed the date and time
- 15 days later the three of us were having lunch together
What happened over lunch
So there I was facilitating this introduction between Carol and Marcia over lunch. I was also continuing to develop my own relationship with both of these dynamic professionals. We met at Carol’s company and had lunch in their cafeteria. The conversation was rich, deep and fascinating. There was no jockeying for position; no sales pitches; no presentations; no overcoming objections. It was just conversation about business issues and opportunities that appealed to all three of us. It was a sharing of knowledge, resources, new and old ideas and inspiring stories from our careers.
It turned out that both Carol and Marcia share a passion for music, conducting, symphonies; and not just watching/listening, but playing and participating. I sat there in the presence of two professional women with high levels of musical intelligence. I didn’t know that had this common ground until I got them together. It was networking magic!
How did this three way lunch benefit me specifically?
Value creation is well under way. Today I had a conference call with Carol and her boss about a possible first engagement project with her company in the next 4 weeks. Later this week, I am meeting with Marcia again to learn more about the Gregorc Style Delineator which she introduced during our three way lunch. New learning, new business development, closer connections, mutually beneficial relationships. I’d say that I stand to benefit a great deal from facilitating this three way lunch.
In what situations might you consider scheduling your own three way lunch?
There are occasions when you might want to add a three way lunch to your networking mix. Here are eight ideas to get you thinking…
- Schedule a three way lunch if someone you want to meet is giving you the run-around, invite someone who you know, that they need to know, with you to lunch. Call your contact and invite them again. You will build instant rapport and credibility with both parties. (excerpt from Jeffrey Gitomer’s Tips on Personal Branding, as reported by Jessica Miller-Merrell)
- Schedule a three way lunch if you want to introduce two power players and you want to be there to ensure that it goes well;
- Schedule a three way lunch to introduce a high potential talented person in your organization to a person of influence inside or outside your company. Your presence will help to pave the way for his/her career advancement;
- Schedule a three way lunch when you want to introduce a referral partner to one of your clients or colleagues and your in-person endorsement would add credibility and value to the introduction;
- Schedule a three way lunch if you want to capitalize on the brain power of two extraordinary people to generate new ideas in a relaxed, casual environment (not in an office setting);
- Schedule a three way lunch when you want to extend the value for one of your Top 50 Contacts by connecting them to other influential people that you know;
- Schedule a three way lunch when you need more efficiency and dynamism in your face to face networking meetings;
- Schedule a three way lunch just to see how one works!
p.s. you can post other occasions where three way lunches are ideal for business networking on our facebook page
Your Networking Tip for the Week
This week, think of two people in your network who don’t yet know each other but should. Invite them to join you for a three way lunch for networking purposes. Before you reach out and invite them, be clear on your intentions. Jot down your business goals and desired outcomes from this networking lunch. What’s in it for you? What’s in it for them? Why do you want to bring these two people together with you? Whenever you invite multiple people together in networking, you must always allow room for the unexpected to happen. I call it networking magic.
Now you are ready to pick up the telephone and contact each of your guests to join you for a three way lunch. Coordinate a few open calendar dates with at least one of the two guests. Follow-up with an email of Facebook message with the logistical details. Be sure to offer a few calendar dates and times to reduce the email back and forth game. You as the main host should secure the venue, make the reservation and if possible, ride share with one of them. Touch base a day or two before the lunch to reconfirm it. And make sure that you, as the host, show up. It is bad etiquette for the host to cancel. Also decide and communicate ahead of time if you are treating them to lunch or if each person is responsible for paying their own way.
After your three way lunch, follow up and express your gratitude to both parties. Action any items that you promised over lunch. A handwritten card sent to each contact will earn you bonus points on the classy networker scale.
About the writer: Kathy McAfee is known as America’s Marketing Motivator and is author of the book Networking Ahead for Business. In her role as Executive Presentation Coach and Professional Speaker, Kathy helps her clients to become the recognized leaders in their fields by mastering the art of high engagement presentations, more effective networking and personal marketing. To learn more about Kathy, visit her web site MarketingMotivator.net. If you like this tip and want to receive free networking tips on a weekly basis, please sign up at NetworkingAhead.com