One of the most common reasons entrepreneurs don’t get out and meet other people is they claim they don’t have time. They say they can’t fit in all the extra networking events, workshops and seminars that are available.
That’s fine. In fact, you’re more likely to have a memorable connection outside the confines of all of the typical meet-and-greet venues.
I don’t like regular coffee meetings or networking events anyway. I’d much rather have fun and expose a new contact to something I actually care about. It’s also nice to do something that I’d be doing anyway so the meeting incorporates an activity I enjoy. Wouldn’t you?
The following suggestions are designed to not only save you time, but to give you a chance to share a bit more of who you both are, which makes your meetings a lot more fun and memorable. Below are seven creative and efficient meeting ideas:
Work Out Together
This is my all-time favorite. I’ve met new friends for a yoga class, taken them on a hike or run and even done intense physical challenges and events together. I first really got to know Leo Babauta when I took him on my favorite two-hour run in San Francisco. Nothing cuts through the usual networking B.S. faster than a little moving, breathing and sweat to go with it.
You could invite someone to one of your favorite workouts or join them for one of theirs. Or if you’re staying at a hotel, ask them to join you at the gym or for them to pick their favorite spot near by.
Play a Sport
Golf is a standard choice, but there are many others. Head to the batting cages, join a pickup basketball game or hire a coach or trainer for an hour to teach you something totally new. If you know your contact’s favorite sport, then perhaps find a way to participate with them.
Pick a Unique Meal Experience
I’m a huge fan of lunch. Everyone needs to eat, and it’s a nice way to interact with new people. But don’t just do lunch for the sake of it. Make it an experience.
I have a favorite tea house where I know all the servers. I get to tell my new contact the crazy story of how the owner had to pitch 72 banks before he got a loan for the place. My guest can’t help but embrace the experience. Any spin on the normal can be huge.
Go for a Walk
I did this with a good friend of mine in Santa Barbara. We’d meet for an hour and cover two or three miles just casually walking up and down State Street and going down to the beach and back. You’ll be far more engaged than if you were sitting at a coffee shop staring at each other, and it’s less awkward for new friends since your walk will present discussion topics. Plus, you’ll get a little exercise — and a break from the constant sitting most office jobs require.
Share a Passion
A new friend invited me to a San Francisco Giants game recently. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I knew he was, so I thought it’d be fun to share the experience with him. It was the most exciting game I’d ever watched, simply because he was so into it.
Similarly, I love inviting people to TEDx events in San Francisco. As soon as I find out about an event, I’ll immediately buy two tickets, often long before I know who I’m going to invite. And even if I can’t go, I’ll still buy tickets. It supports TED and I know they’ll make for the perfect gift.
Invite Them to a Dinner or Existing Meeting
Don’t have time to meet someone one on one? Ask them to share a meal that you already have scheduled with other like-minded people (after asking the permission of the other guests, of course). Or have them meet you just before dinner or just after. That way you can invite them to dinner if the conversation is going well and at the least, you can introduce them to your other friends as they arrive.
Work With Them
A friend of mine recently invited me to spend the day at our favorite spot working side by side. I’d never been asked on a “working date” before, but he explained how it would keep us both accountable to our projects and would give us a chance to share our breaks, inspiration and ideas together throughout the day.
Most the day we spent silently writing and drinking tea. And every so often, we’d chat and share ideas. We also had contests to see whether we could both finish an article before the next break. I loved it.
Make It Fun, Memorable and Easy
The point of all these ideas is to share a little more of yourself than usual and to have a lot more fun in the process. Soon, you’ll also notice yourself having a lot more time for
So from this day forward, do all you can to put an end to the boring and wasteful meeting. Consider it your job to infuse some energy into the typical dull interaction. People will love you for it. As a little bonus, you’ll also start to notice a lot more people wanting to meet with you.