We’re knee-deep in extension-land for some of our individual and family clients (extensions due in about a week). And I’m glad to say that we’ve been able to help a lot of families keep far more in their pockets than if they had used the “drag and drop” solutions, or one of those tax prep boiler rooms.
We’re grateful for your trust.
Also, we’re pretty eager to dig our collective teeth into all of the opportunities available for businesses under the “new” tax code in 2018.
Well the past couple weeks, I’ve had to turn down a few lunch appointments simply because of all the work we’ve been doing … but it sparked some thinking for me, about this whole practice of business lunches — and how to do them right.
I had someone suggest this kind of advice to me early in my journey of being a business owner, and it was good advice. Heck, it’s good advice for me NOW (and it was useful for me to put the article together, to clarify my mind on it all).
Simply put, I believe that this method is the BEST way to advance your business, better your parenting skills, or pursue any other venture in life: ask someone who has gone ahead of you and is doing it well.
But there’s a right way to do that … and definitely some mistakes to avoid.
How To Find a Business Mentor
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
For those of you in the early stages in your career, this article might be worth more than many of the classes you took in college — if you follow my advice on how to find a business mentor.
And, for those of you who are further along in your business career … frankly, the advice still applies. I can’t tell you how many lunches (or coffees) I’ve been to with ill-prepared, meandering partners. And while some of the specifics of the questions might change from what I suggest here, and from person to person, and over the years … there simply isn’t a better way to build relationships with someone who is busy and successful than what I suggest below. After all … they gotta eat!
Go somewhere easy — and YOU pay.
Nobody has time to meet you for a fancy meal in the middle of a busy work day. A cup of coffee works because you pay in advance. You don’t want that awkward moment where you both wait for the bill to come, or to have the server interrupt you a dozen times.
And yes, you might be young and poor-ish. But if you’ve chosen your lunch partner properly, it’s simply good manners to ante up the $20-$30 (or less) to pay for their meal. This signals your valuing of their time, and it will build up good will.
Ask questions the entire time.
You convened the meal — so it is your turn to ask the questions, pick this person’s brain, and get as much feedback as you possibly can on your topic. I highly suggest that you come loaded with questions, ready to fire out.
Oh and there’s one thing about questions that you need to know…
Ask good questions.
Please don’t ask for their “best tips or advice”. That’s horribly lame, and they won’t know where to start. So make it a rule to not ask general questions, because you’ll simply get vague responses that won’t help you much.
So what are some good questions?
Well, that of course, does depend on your lunch mate, and your own goals for the time. But, for general-purpose networking, and learning the stories behind someone’s success, here are some good places to start:
- What did you do right after high school? What did you do after college? [You want to see what a successful person has done right after completing their studies. This will usually surprise you.]
- What does an average day look like in your life? I wonder if there’s time for video games?
- Who else do you work with? [This way, you can find out the other players involved in making their team work.]
- What would you do if…? [Then you present a specific scenario — hopefully one that you’re experiencing yourself.]
Don’t talk about yourself, unless asked directly.
Or, as The Rock used to say: “Know your role and shut your mouth.” This is your time to be all ears and become a sponge for information. Don’t give your input on every single comment.
Do some research.
Don’t walk in confused or clueless about what this person is all about. It’s important that you take some time to do your research and figure out exactly what this person has been working on. This will score you some bonus points. It pays to be interested. People want to know that their work is being taken seriously.
I do hope this will save you some embarrassment, and, even, open some doors for you that will take your business to the next level.
Feel very free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.
Garrett & Associates, CPA