Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Prepare for That Big Meeting by Studying the Hints Your Prospect Leaves Online

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever received an email from someone where the entire message was simply in the subject line and the body of the email was left blank? What about the Facebook friend who likes anything you post within two minutes of updating your status? Studying someone’s virtual presence gives us a head start on better connecting with them and their business style in the real world

Successful businesses are built on relationships and relationships are built on the ability of people to connect and understand each other. To give yourself the best chance of connecting with someone, use their virtual presence to have a better understanding of their hardwiring. Study the hints that people are broadcasting online. Five minutes of observation and research might allow you to adapt your approach to better connect in person.

Related: How to Use Social Media for Research and Development

Let’s look at emails, for example. If you receive email from a client or a prospective customer who you have never met before and the email is brief, to the point and could have been easily conveyed in the subject line, then they probably have a very big picture and energy driven personality type. Perhaps their email failed to use proper grammar or spell check as they just wanted to get the point across and move on to their next opportunity or task.

When you meet with energy driven prospects, anticipate that the minute details will bore them. Get to the bottom line as they do when they communicated with you.They might not care about how your company, service or product works but they just want to know what it does and how that affects their situation. Rapport building is still essential with this group but perhaps with a little less small talk than normal.Typically, a half completed LinkedIn profile that only highlights accomplishments is another clue.

If the email is very methodical, in outline form and asks many questions, that is a tip off that the client or prospect is more of an analytical type. They prefer heavy research, data and numbers to back up what you are educating them on. Expect them to take a longer time in making decisions. They may view your small talk as superficial and would prefer that you go through the details of the presentation.

To speed up their decision making process or connection process, do not present too many options for them to dissect. Make the next steps in the process predictable. Frequently check in, ask what they are thinking and what additional information they need to make the best decision. The analytical types will usually have very complete and by-the-book LinkedIn profiles.

If you get an email from someone who goes off on tangents not related completely to the business at hand, they will have a highly personal approach to business. Usually, they want extra warm up time when they first meet you and want to know more about you as a person than as a professional. The good news is you will probably leave these meetings with a new best friend if you follow their lead. The bad news is, it doesn’t mean that any business got accomplished.

RelatedThe Real Generation Gap: How Adults and Teens Use Social Media Differently (Infographic)

Spend the extra time to understand who these people are and how they feel towards the business at hand. Also, don’t cheerlead too much about your product or company, but more about why you are involved. Frequently ask for their opinions and connect your proposal to how it will positively affect the people they surround themselves with. The social/personal drivers will have many friends on their networks and be very active on their social networks. They have an addiction to sharing their feelings and life with the people on their networks. Be sensitive to their decisions and encourage their opinions to build the best connection.

Every person and situation is different but use these hints as general rules of thumb to enhance your connectivity in new relationships.

Related: How You Can Win at Social Media Right Now (Hint: Silly Cat Pics Don't Cut It)

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks