Recently I mentored a bunch of startups at a friends’ accelerator program. The setup was a bit like speed dating — I sat down at a table and one after the other the startups came, sat down, told me their story and then we got into a discussion. In the interest of time I usually ask people very early in the meeting what their biggest challenge is and how I can help.
Most of the discussions were great. The entrepreneurs were awesome, their ideas solid, the problems well defined and within a few minutes we could make some significant progress on their challenges.
As said: Most of the discussions were great.
A few entrepreneurs sat down and their first question was: “So — what are your areas of expertise and how can you help us?”
There is little, which pisses me off more than if someone who knows that we are going to meet is not prepared. Especially when I volunteer my time. I’d rather have them bail out and not meet with me at all (and thus give someone else more time with me).
“Treat others like the messiah. Always. No exception.”
Here’s the learning: There is really no excuse for not researching the people you’re going to meet beforehand. It takes three minutes and will not only make your meeting better (as you can ask the right questions without much fuzzing around) but simply shows respect for the other person. Just google them.