Let no one tell you that a coffee meeting must end in a caffeine-dazed, unproductive parting of ways. In fact, 99u’s Sean Blanda writes that a coffee meeting can be a powerful way to make a connection and accomplish some real work. The catch is you have to mean business.
Blanda has a few tips to help you lay the foundation for a great coffee meeting and get the most out of your time.
- Take a direct approach. When you email someone to request a portion of her time—a person’s most precious resource—be clear about who you are, what you know about her work and why you’d like to speak with her. Then suggest some meeting times, so she’ll know you’re taking her time seriously.
- Demonstrate respect for the other person’s time. Skip the small talk and make good use of your 30 minutes, which is the average length of a coffee meeting. If you’re meeting with someone out of interest, you probably have some idea of who he is from his LinkedIn profile, articles and webinars. And before this meaningful conversation starts, be sure to be punctual.
- Buy the beverages. You asked someone out, you’re taking advantage of his time and you’re paying for his drink. When you’re in line, ask what the other person wants and then pay for both of your beverages. However, if the person really does protest, let him pay. You want to offer respect and good manners, but this interaction shouldn’t last more than five seconds.
- Come armed with one thing you want to ask for. Having agreed to meet you, this person is already doing you a favor, but you should be specific about what else you want from the individual. People can deal with what you’re asking as long you’re making yourself clear.
- Follow up. The next day, send an email thanking the other person and giving her any information you said you’d send along. You can also add a gentle reminder of anything she promised to send you. A few weeks later, send another follow up with thanks and any update on what you’ve done with her help.
— Adapted from “10 Tips for an Awesome Coffee Meeting,” Sean Blanda, 99u.