1-2-1's come in many forms, so the information you collect from them will vary from a general sense of a person (that you might not write any notes about) to specific examples of things to do or say on your networking partner’s behalf, and even beyond to lists of commitments you might make to each other about future events or ways to partner and aid each other.
Consider the nature of your relationship. A first 1-2-1 will be just getting to know each other, and the sort of information that might be relevant will be general background as you search for common areas of interest. You might note the names of the other's spouse, kids, and pets. You might note something about the other's history. But the key goal is to find areas that you both are interested in and dwell on them. I've had initial 1-2-1's where all I ended up discussing was what restaurants we both liked. I've had other first meetings where we discussed hobbies and backgrounds, searching for people we knew in common. At neither of these did I take notes about the other person. I left with a general sense that this was a person I enjoyed talking with and looked forward to doing it again.
At a second meeting, you can often begin to target the discussion toward deeper understandings. The GAINS profile questions are excellent here. Start interviewing each other to learn about:
personal and professional GOALS or missions.
personal and professional ACCOMPLISHMENTS which are noteworthy or of which you are particularly proud.
personal and professional INTERESTS that show you are a more rounded person and not a hyper-focused automaton.
the level of knowledge about networking and where else you NETWORK. What groups and organizations you belong to.
personal and professional SKILLS you have developed or mastered,
Each of those categories can lead to other conversations (and additional 1-2-1 appointments to discuss them), and if you take some notes here you about these areas (or exchange pre-created documents [such as a version of a Networking Referral Guide] with this information already collected) you will begin to see interesting possibilities.
You might envision ways to help the other person achieve their goals with less effort, or you may have friends with similar interests with whom you'd like to connect the other person. You may be a member of a group looking for someone with this person's qualities or qualifications to round out their lineup. But most importantly, collecting this information (formally or informally) will lead you to a greater level of knowledge about each other and trust in the other's qualifications (if not direct trust in the other's character). At the very least, you will get insight into what motivates the other person, and some rudimentary knowledge about with whom you could connect them.
Jeff Hexter is sought out for networking coaching throughout Northeast Ohio. He and Sue Nelson, Founding Director of The Job Search Center offer these practice and coaching sessions, which are open to all professionals in transition, entrepreneurs, freelancers, business development and relationship sales people. Groups are kept small so we can give lots of personal attention. Please register for the next session early.