I love meeting people. I do. But I’m not going to lie. I’m a little judgmental when someone asks me to go to coffee. I’m not one of those people who will say ‘coffee actually costs around $200/hr if you want me to schedule it in’ but my time does become more and more valuable every day and people are becoming less and less aware of how they should handle themselves after they’ve asked someone to attend such a meeting.
Networking is pivotal for your career, but not if you don’t have a clue how to do it. So this week’s Savvy Tuesday is all about the question you must ask at every coffee meeting for it to feel like successful, valuable time spent. So whether this is your first time meeting someone or you have a standing appointment with the same person once a week, always make it your goal to ask this question.
Asking someone if you can buy them a cup of coffee, for a lot of people, is a really quick way of saying “I’m going to ask you a bunch of advice about what you do.” That’s just typically the case. As the askee, it becomes normal to want to resist these time-sucking meetings, especially after encountering the ones who don’t do their homework and are just trying to meet every person they can without doing any homework. Ugh. I hate those. You might as well breed business cards.
So there is one question you should keep in mind and always ask. You’ll notice I said “keep in mind” first though and that’s because when you do, you’ll be much more likely to change your mindset of someone who wants to contribute a ton of value before even anticipating what you’ll get out of it. And then as you’re being respectful of their time and wrapping up the meeting you want to say, and mean:
“Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Don’t say it in a self-interest type of way. Anyone can read “please hire me” without hearing it. And don’t just toss it in at the end as you say goodbye. Look your subject in the eye and mean it. Beg for an answer. Okay not literally, but you know what I’m saying. You want them to see that you’re actually very curious of how you can do something that helps them.
Relating it back to your conversation would be great as well, like if there is someone they have not met that you mentioned or you might want to offer complimentary services if that’s a fit for where you are in your career. I’m much more likely to provide something valuable that seems like a much bigger deal than it is and doesn’t take any time away from my workload. There’s a lot of ways you can work this, but if you don’t ask you won’t know which direction to go.
Don’t forget that good networking doesn’t stop at the end of the meeting. Make notes in your contact manager about what you talked about. Follow up with an email thank you… or even better a hand written note if it was a big deal to you. Go above and beyond so your coffee date knows how respectful you are of their time and consideration.
How do you make every coffee meeting a success in growing your business?