Spelling Out Meetings

I’ve been in the business of meeting with people “professionally” for three decades.  Most of that time spent in organizational leadership.  Being in management made the scheduling of meetings easy.  In those fattened years people wanted to meet because they believed I may be tied to influence, compensation or maybe even some sort of help.

I’m no longer in management.  Today I meet with people to connect them with World Concern or one of the other six organizations in the CRISTA family of ministries.  It’s no longer as easy to schedule meetings.  Not everyone wants to connect.  Some think I’ll just ask them for a donation.  Everyone is busy.

Meetings with individuals are needed for sales, procuring volunteers, networking or even fundraising.  There is a need for these meetings, so how do you develop solid meetings?  And how do you develop meetings that help everyone get to their goals…you and the person with which you are meeting?

Here is an eight-point acrostic to guide the way and it is the very word, M-E-E-T-I-N-G-S.

MANY.  There are a ton of potential meetings out there.  This must be your mindset and it’s just not a game, it is the truth.

ProspectI recently passed a guy on a motorcycle who was wearing a patch on the back of his black leather jacked that read “Prospect.”  I thought to myself, “What kind of gang is that? Not very selective.”  In my mind, everyone is a part of the “Prospect” gang…everyone is a potential meeting.

At the same time, while everyone is a prospect, I don’t meet with everyone. I know myself. I’m a multiplier and meet best with people who are multiplying in the work, community and relationships.  It’s modeled after II Timothy 2:2 which encourages us to take the valuable Message to reliable men and women who can and will entrust the Truth to others.  That is what I am built to do and while there are many meetings to be had, my meetings aim at that target.

EFFECTIVE.  There is nothing as effective as a meeting.  If I compare an email to a letter to a note to a phone call, the best above all is the face-to-face meeting.  It’s where I’m at my best and where I can best serve whomever I’m meeting.

Using the word effective makes these events sound “transactional.”  Once a meeting becomes transactional, it is not all that it can be.  Effective meetings are actually transformational…and it must be highlighted that transformations are two-way events.

A friend from the Development Department at the University of Washington refers to herself as the “concierge” for the UDub.  She helps donors find their fit at the University of Washington.  What do they want to see?  What do they want to do?  That is her job.  She is the expert on the University of Washington and brings that gift to those she meets.

When you meet with people, you are to be the expert.  You bring the value of knowing the organization, business, connectedness, experience and can help others connect well.  This is effective.

EXPIDITE.  While Jesus was on the way and he met Zacchaeus.  He didn’t respond with, “Zacchaeus, let’s set up a time to get together.  How about Tuesday at Starbucks?”  Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down right now because today we are going to your house.”

Meet with people now.  Don’t put it off.  There will always be an excuse not to set up meetings or actually meet.  The only excuse should be that your calendar is already filled.  If your dance card isn’t filled, invite someone to dance and do it now.

TARGETED.  I go to them.  You don’t hit a target by hoping the bulls eye will find it’s way to the arrow.  I drive to them.  I’m basically always in someone’s neighborhood and when I’m there I meet.  I say, “I’m always in your neighborhood.”

An old sales tactic would be “Always close on something.”  Every meeting has a “close,” has a target, the only question is are you going to accomplish that purpose?  Most of my meetings do not have a specific, organization objective beyond getting to know someone.  Most often I’m just looking to get to know the person and their heart for our work.  It’s a pretty simple “close.”  Another common purpose is just to get their perspective on the world, the economy or what God is doing.  Again, very simple in content…now I just have to get after it.

INCARNATION.  This is a theological term and it works in meetings.  To incarnate is to “be with,” “identify” or, as said in The Message Bible, “Move into their neighborhood.”  When I have a meeting, I’m not only going to their location, but I am entering their world.  This is key and is all encompassing.

Being incarnational cannot be a way to an end.  It must be your honest approach to people, “I want to be with you.”  Anything else is going to smell and people have really good noses these days.

NETWORK.  I network like a big dog.  I enjoy it.  I don’t network to get meetings, but network to “kick up dust.”  I want to get the word out about our organization and the good things we are doing in the world.  As I kick up dust, I will find folks who identify with what we are doing or even just folks with whom I find a connection.  When I meet those people at events, I set up a time to meet with them.

GOD-LED.  This work only works if God leads…and He not only will but HAS.  God is leading your work and life.  He will lead you to the people, places and times to meet with the people with whom you are supposed to meet in the right place and at the right time.  He does that work very simply, as in a quiet thought or a Facebook notification.

The point to this would be that there is no coincidence.  When you sense a leading, go with it.

While driving to church on Father’s Day, I thought about a buddy whose birthday was two days previous.  I picked up the phone and called him.  Wished him a happy birthday and told him that we were going out to a Mexican brunch and I was afraid that it “might tear up my inside” (exact words and truth).  We awkwardly laughed together, I encouraged him, wished him a happy birthday and Father’s Day and that was the end of it…until I got to church…

At church, I saw my friend’s dad and said, “Hey, I called your son this morning to wish him a two-day late happy birthday.”  The dad said, “Did he tell you where he was at?”  “No.”  “He’s in the hospital.  Went in earlier this morning for emergency removal of part of his colon.”

Immediately, I cringed at my words, but was then thankful that I was led to call him that morning.  He could use a friendly voice in that moment to wish him a great day and give him a laugh.  You could say it was a chance event, but it was the leading of the Lord.

God will lead you to meetings and when he does, respond.

SCHEDULE.  Yes, the Lord works, and we are asked to be faithful.  Faithfulness is always found in your schedule (and pocketbook, but that is another blog post).  You have to actually schedule meetings.  Yes, trust God but trust that he is working in and around your scheduling activities.

My colleague Tony Bollen of Seattle Urban Academy reminded me of Proverbs 21.31 which says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”  Doing your schedule is getting the horse ready.  The meeting actually happening and being effective is up to the Lord.

It’s that simple…except it is never is that simple.  Follow the acrostic.  Think in terms of MANY meetings.  Make sure the meeting is EFFECTIVE in being with the right person talking about the right stuff.  Don’t wait to have a meeting, EXPIDITITE it by doing it now.  Have that meeting with TARGETED place and objectives.  Make sure that you meet the person, not only in place but in spirit/head/heart by being INCARNATIONAL.  NETWORK like a big dog, kicking up dust for your organization. Trust that GOD-LED to this meeting.  Do the work by actually putting together a SCHEDULE of meetings.

This post spells it out.  All of this will lead to successful M-E-E-T-I-N-G-S.