It’s the typical scenario … You’re out networking, meeting people and then the question comes up… “Can we meet for coffee?”
Coffee meetings can be a double edged sword if you’re not careful.
On the plus side, they are one of the best ways to get to know someone and see how you might be able to work with them. Nothing beats one-on-one face time with someone.
But there’s a negative side as well.
They can be time consuming and many times it’s just a more intimate way for someone to either pick your brain or pitch their wares.
So how do you keep on track and make the most of these meetings?
First off, plan a specific time frame and agenda. If the meeting is set for 30 minutes, then keep to it. I personally like to set them for 45 minutes. I think that 30 minutes just isn’t enough time to really get the juices flowing in a good conversation.
But why 45 minutes?
Because when I line up live meetings, I book them all at the same place back to back. One hour apart to be specific.
See, I know that there will be people who cancel last minute, some will be late and some will need more time, but this keeps me on track and the most effective. I’ll take an entire day and book non-stop meetings all day at the same place on one day.
With 45 minutes planned, it gives us a few minutes in case we run long and gives me time between meetings to prep for the next one if needed.
I’ve had days where I sat in the same spot in a coffee shop for 8 hours.
I’m also very specific in where I meet with people as well. I pick a central location that has food, coffee and WiFi so I can bring my laptop with me. This way, when someone cancels or no-shows (and some do) I’m not sitting there wasting time. I just pull out my laptop and knock out some writing or reply to a few emails.
It’s all about being prepared ahead of time and knowing exactly what to expect for the conversation.
Also, if you’re doing more global business, don’t forget about Skype for “Virtual Coffee” meetings. It’s the next best thing to a live face to face conversation and no one has to travel anywhere.
I’m known to lock in full days with Skype calls to chat with people all over the globe and see how we can help each other out. As the world gets smaller and smaller, this is becoming much more standard.
Just remember the same rules apply. Plan specific times and set a timer if needed to make sure you stay on track. Have an agenda and be sure to follow up after the call. I like to book a little extra time to shoot off a follow up email immediately after a call I have with someone to recap what we talked about and what the next steps might be.
Coffee meetings, live or virtual, can be a great way to build relationships with potential clients, referral partners or business colleagues. Just be sure to keep on track and plan ahead to make the most of them.
About The Author:
Ely Delaney is a dad, Best Selling author, speaker, marketing consultant and Founder/CEO of Your Marketing University. His goal is to teach marketing in a simple easy to understand format businesses can use to help gain marketing ideas & market their businesses to boost sales.
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