How to Succeed in the “Meet for Coffee” Business

Career Blog

For many people, networking is a dreaded affair. This is especially true for introverts who loathe the required small talk that comes with the event. That said, even the most gregarious among us can be slightly intimidated by the process, especially if their conversation counterpart is a more powerful or politically influential player.

If requesting a “meet for coffee” conversation is not your favorite sport, leverage the following three rules to combat your discomfort and help ensure the interaction benefits both parties.

  1. Have a Clear, Specific Reason for the Meeting: Don’t say you want to pick my brain; be as specific as possible. For example, you want to learn how to break into professional speaking, collect job leads for a career in finance, or take your business to the next level. The more specific your request, the faster I can help or refer you to someone who can if the topic is outside my expertise.
  2. Request an Action/Take an Action: If I meet with you, it’s because I know you and have a vested interest in your success or because, at one point, an acquaintance helped me, and I’m simply paying back the karma. So, make the interaction worth the time spent. That means two things. First, make an explicit request of me: share a contact, provide a referral, or loan me a book. Second, commit to an action ­– actually use what was provided within a specific time frame.
  3. Help Me…Or at Least Offer To: Learning is a two-way street, so always end the conversation with an inquiry as to how you can return the favor. Everyone has contacts and knowledge to share, so take a moment to ask what I’m trying to achieve with my business and offer to help where you can. Perhaps I’m writing a new book, and you have a friend who is a rock-star literary agent. Sometimes, you can help. Sometimes you can’t. But the offer is always appreciated.

Finally, don’t forget to Follow up. Let your conversation counterpart know how you are doing. It means more than you know.

If I spend time with you, chances are I want you to be successful. So circle back now and then to share your triumphs. I’ll take pride in my small role in that success, be more invested in your future, and thus be more likely to help again.

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