We don’t think about business meetings the same way we do today as we did 100 years ago.
Today’s working culture is more relaxed, more casual, more remote. Fewer and fewer people wear suits and formal attire and instead opt for jeans and company-branded sweatshirts. Co-working spaces have completely replaced the idea of needing a conventional office. And, most importantly, we build relationships even more easily over the internet than we do in our everyday lives.
And all of these changes in work culture have redefined what a “meeting” is.
For the longest time, two types of meetings were most commonly accepted in the business world: the kind that happened in the office, where a client or a partner would arrive and you would guide them to a conference room, or you would meet with someone in the evening over drinks or dinner.
Today, we have come to accept so many different types of environments as being suitable for meetings. We are no longer limited to just a conference room or a low-lit restaurant.
Here are 4 ways in which you can build relationships with people in today’s day and age:
1. Meet for an early morning or afternoon workout.
Nearly everyone has some sort of physical activity outlet, whether it’s going to the gym, yoga, swimming, or some other sort of fitness class.
Sometimes we forget that the people we are trying to meet with are trying just as hard as we are to “fit everything in.” So, why not kill two birds with one stone and both get in a good workout while you continue to get to know each other better, brainstorm ideas of how you can potentially work together, etc. For example, I recently had my good friend and founder of the Influencers Dinner, Jon Levy, over to my house to discuss a new company we are working on, and we held our “meeting” while simultaneously exercising using some of my biohacking equipment.
In this sense, our meeting didn’t “add more” to our schedules, but actually allowed us to make better use of time we were already going to spend separately.
2. Meet for a hike or while taking a long walk.
If you live on the west coast, then you know how common this practice is for entrepreneurs on this side of the country.
There is so much to be gained by moving meetings outdoors. A hike with a view or even a long walk in a park can be much more enjoyable (and mentally stimulating) than sitting in an office under a bunch of fluorescent lights. And don’t feel like you need to wait for someone else to suggest this—take it upon yourself to say, “I was thinking of going for a hike later this afternoon. Any interest in joining and we can talk more then?”
You’ll be surprised how many people will take you up on the offer.
3. Meet while preparing a meal together.
Levy, who I mentioned above, has done an absolutely terrific job of baking (no pun intended) this meeting style into his dinner series.
What he does is curates a small handful of guests who are all incredibly respected in their fields, but who have never met each other before, and invites them over for dinner (sometimes hosted in New York, sometimes in LA). As they prepare the meal together, they are not allowed to say their last name or anything about what they do for work. It isn’t until they are halfway through their meal together that they go around in a circle and each person reveals themselves. It is common for someone to be sitting next to the CEO of a publicly traded company, or an Olympic athlete, and not have any idea.
We forget how intimate cooking and sharing a meal together can be. Hosting a small dinner can be such a great way of building a relationship with someone, or a group of people, in a very casual way.
4. Meet in a relaxed but special location.
Meeting for coffee is boring. But meeting for coffee in an underground coffee house only known to coffee aficionados is an experience.
Again, we forget how hard it can be to find time to go exploring in our own cities. So instead of seeing that as a separate activity from work, combine the two. Instead of picking the coffee shop you go to twice a week, right down the street, see if there’s somewhere else nearby where you and someone else could talk and explore at the same time. For example, don’t repeat old restaurants—try new ones together. Worst case scenario, the food not being great can be a talking point for you to bond over.
All in all, try not to think of meetings as they have always been defined. Make meetings your own. Explore new locations. Make new memories. This is how you will end up building longer-lasting, more meaningful relationships with people.