Blog Post Courtesy of Netchicks Marketing.
Who doesn’t love coffee shops? You don’t even have to like coffee to find something to enjoy about them. They offer a cozy gathering spot, typically provide free internet access and who can beat the offerings behind the counter?
Most of us have participated in a coffee meeting or two. They can be a terrific way to get to know a prospective client or employer. They can also be a non-threatening means to an introduction to a new industry or skill set. They can provide the backdrop to gaining insight that can help you in your career.
These popular get-togethers have become the norm and here are a few tips that you can use to make your next coffee meeting as productive as possible.
1. Be respectful of their time.
If you’ve reached out to someone for a coffee meeting and they’ve agreed to meet, be mindful to keep the meeting as concise as possible. Arrive early, don’t be late. You should plan for the meeting to be no longer than 15-30 minutes, especially depending on the schedule of the person you are meeting with. If they wish to continue the meeting, great, but never expect to dictate a longer meeting when you’ve asked them to meet. I once had a coffee meeting go for two hours, but that is a rarity and should not be expected.
2. Offer to pay.
Out of simple courtesy, you should pay for the person’s drink. Even if you’re out of work and are picking this person’s brain for possible leads, or asking them to share their knowledge with you, be prepared to pay. If they’ve agreed to meet with you, it is the very least you can do to thank them.
3. Have a specific goal for the meeting.
Go into the meeting with one simple goal, and stick with it. If you are looking for possible leads, research ahead of time and have ideas that you can present. “I see you are working on this project and I wonder how your marketing team is ramping up to take on this additional work?” If you are trying to gain insight into a new industry, the same rules apply. Do your homework and have 2-3 specific questions that will help you understand the industry and not take too much of the person’s time.
4. Take notes, follow up.
A given. If the person is willing to meet and share their insights with you, it is imperative that you respect them enough to write down the information they are sharing with you. These are points and tips that you can possibly use in the future and you never know what the meeting could lead to for you. The more professionally you approach it, the better the possible outcome.Following up is also critical. A thank you with one or two additional thoughts, possible ways to add value or some other outcome are essential. This is a perfect way to reinforce the meeting and give that person another reason to think of you and perhaps open a door for you.
5. Find a way to add value.
While you are researching ahead of time, think of ways that your skill set could fill a potential void for the person. Perhaps they just picked up a new client and you have expertise in that industry. Your goal for the meeting could be to discuss the project and then offer your expertise when there is an appropriate need communicated during the conversation. By bringing a specific solution to a potential problem, the person could be more inclined to look into ways you could add value to their company.