Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

by Kevin Elliott

I know, you’d rather text. 

But business – real business – is done in person. Your best connections and opportunities will come from face-to-face encounters with other humans. There is just too much evolution against you. No AI or digital communication will match a handshake and convo over a cup of coffee.

So you might as well get good at it. 

Here are three types of in-person meetings you can do to build your creative business, guaranteed. 

1. Coffee Meetings

Start by identifying people of interest in your community through social media platforms. DM or email them. Seriously. Send them a personalized message expressing your admiration for their work and your desire to build your network. Surprisingly, many seasoned business people will gladly accept the invitation to meet for a casual coffee.

They remember what is was like trying to build their network and will appreciate your hustle.

Goal of Coffee

Get on their radar. Ask about them and their life. DO NOT try to sell them anything. Just have a convo. Follow up with an email telling the how enjoyed meeting them and – here’s a crucial technique – mention something specific they said in the conversation. It works like magic for getting a response. 

Example: “Hi Jake, it was great meeting you the other day. I appreciate you taking the time. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other again at some point. P.S. – I hope you enjoy that fishing trip in Cabo!”

This shows you really listened and wanted to connect. Nothing will work better for getting important people to remember you. 

2. Chamber of Commerce Meetings

Ever heard of a chamber of commerce? Your community has at least one, I promise. The entire point of a chamber is to connect local business people and facilitate their growth. Therefore, you can go to chamber meetings without any fear of talking about your business. It’s the point. 

Chambers have two common types of meetings: 

  • Monthly daytime meetings like “First Fridays”
  • Business after hours meetings

Yes it will feel overwhelming to enter a room full of strangers, but remember that everyone is there to meet new people and discuss business. And remember, most people love talking about themselves and their businesses. Just ask what business they are in and they will do the rest of the talking.

And here’s another pro tip: The more the other person talks about themselves, the more they will like you and remember you. It’s weird, but it works.

Goal of Chamber Meetings

To enter the business networks of others. These meetings are great for finding connections you would never have otherwise. This is why it’s essential to attend multiple meetings to foster long-term connections and allow others to introduce you to new contacts.

Pro tip: ALWAYS have physical business cards on your person. It’s not enough to share contacts phone to phone. They will put your card in their pocket, forget it’s there, but then find it later and remember you. Voila! Now you’ve had two interactions with the person and you didn’t even have to attend one. 

3. Speaking Engagements

This is the peak and takes some practice. But if you can get moderately good at speaking in front of people, I promise your career will be better for it. Most human beings are deathly afraid to speak to groups, so if you do it, they credit lots of intelligence and poise to you. That credibility transfers to your business. And they’ll remember you more, too.

Goal of Speaking Engagements

Establish you as an authority in your field and attract potential clients or collaborators.

How Do I Find Speaking Opportunities?

There are speaking engagements all around you, trust me. This is also where the Chamber of Commerce can help. They are always looking for speakers and, yes, they will let you talk about something you know. Check their website for an events calendar. Then reach out to them and ask to speak. Chambers are some of the most communicative people on Earth. They will follow up.

You will have to join the chamber, which usually costs a few hundred dollars a year. But the benefits of speaking are worth many times that.

Speaking lets you showcase your expertise and creativity. Whether it’s a panel discussion or a presentation, seize the opportunity to share your insights and connect with the audience. 

I have personally used (and still use) speaking engagements to build my business. And because most people are afraid to do it, there is little competition. 

In Person > AI for Biz Dev

After 25 years in the business world, I can confidently say that nothing has had a greater impact on my success than face-to-face meetings. Digital tools are amazing and really help, but I’m betting the fundamentals of human connection will never change. 

And if you see me at your next in-person meeting, say hi. I’ll introduce you to my network.

(850) 819-4463