Did you know that coffee could do much more than just wake you up in the morning? And that networking over a couple of cappuccino and cafe lattes is ideal for those with busy schedules? All you have to do is just step away from your computer and enjoy real face time. Consider these quick and easy ideas before you schedule your next coffee meeting.
- Start with your inner circle. If you are apprehensive about extending invitations to cold contacts, start with those you already know. Loyal customers will appreciate the extra attention and you may be surprised by what you can learn from one of your vendors when you talk more in-depth over a cup of coffee.
- Clarify your purpose. Busy executives are more likely to agree to 20 – 30 minutes of coffee than to a full lunch hour and they will surely want to make good use of their time. Be ready to explain why you want to meet and what is the specific agenda of this meeting.
- Create curiosity. Ensure your offer is appealing to your guest. Be sure you have information they need. Make this meeting a complete win-win.
- Know whom you are meeting. Find out more about your guest through Linked In, Facebook, and relevant social media posts and articles. That knowledge will help you connect instantly and enrich your conversation and prepare you with the pertinent questions to ask.
- Make it easy for them. Make it convenient for others to help you. Suggest specific places and times to get together. Maybe you are attending the same conference or there is a coffee shop in their office lobby.
Plan Ahead To Get The Most Out Of The Meeting
- Show up on time. You will make a good impression when you respect other’s time. Arrive at your destination before your guest so you can snag a table and greet them.
- Offer to pay. Ask your guest what they would like to order, and assume you will pay the total bill. If they prefer to split the check or treat you, accept graciously instead of arguing.
- Keep track of the time. Take charge of seeing to it that your meeting can end on time. If the conversation is running strong, let your guest know when it’s a few minutes before the time they had to leave. That way you can wrap things up or let them decide to linger.
- Makes lots of notes and record the conversation for future reference. Pull out your phone, tablet or a notepad. Jot down any important points or tasks you want to put on your to do list.
- Know what you want, and ask for it. Being direct usually pays off. Maybe you are looking for leads in your job hunt or trying to find clients or investors for your new business.
- Express your gratitude. Whatever the outcome, let your guest know that you are grateful for their time and assistance. Thank them as you say goodbye, and send a ‘thank you’ note or call them within the next few days.
- Be generous. One of the most sincere ways to thank any benefactor is to join them in being generous. Offer something of value to your guest. Remember what goes around, comes around.
- Engage continuously. A successful coffee meeting can be the beginning of something much bigger. Stay in touch with your contacts. Tell them when you manage to implement one of their ideas. Send them referrals or research studies that you think they will enjoy.
- Delayed gratification. Networking requires sustained effort if you want to expand your professional circles and enhance your reputation. Arrange 5 coffee meetings a month, and see how much progress you make.
Make meeting for coffee part of your regular routine. Build your network one cup at a time in a casual and friendly atmosphere where you can discuss ideas and deepen your professional relationships.