Are you giving good coffee?
Coffee meetings are great, even if you’re like me and don’t actually drink coffee (don’t start with me, caffeine heads – it keeps me up all night long).
Seriously, though, meeting one on one to figure out what the deal is with another person is networking at its finest, as long as we don’t screw it up.
And how, you might ask, are we supposed to do that? You’re in luck – that’s what we’re here to talk about!
First things first: nailing the coffee meeting isn’t just about what you do while you’re sitting there shouting over the baristas and the bean grinder. It starts the minute you score an agreement to meet, and doesn’t end until long after you’ve forgotten whether you had a London Fog or a latte.
So let’s say you and somebody have decided to get together for coffee. Now what?
Don’t be useless about logistics.
Have you been on the receiving end of this nonsense? When the person you’re trying to make plans with is Captain No Opinions? They don’t care when, they don’t care where, they want whatever you want. Which also means they’re sticking you with all the work of figuring it out. Blecchh.
Now, I get it. No one wants to be inflexible. It can seem like being wide open is more considerate. But it also gives the other person nothing to work with.
Meanwhile, you don’t want to be Lieutenant High Maintenance either. This is the person who can only meet at 3:47 on the third Tuesday of every month and only in the cafeteria of their office building, located on the far side of the moon (natch).
There’s a sweet spot in between these two pains-in-the neck, and that’s what we’re shooting for. Throw out a few slots in your schedule or general times you tend to be available and give them some idea of your preferred location. Give them something to latch onto, without being too specific. Like:
“I’m booked up until next month but after that, mornings are fairly open, except for the 21st. I’m on the south side of the city but I can meet you anywhere that’s convenient for you.”
If you find this piece is a usually a massive hassle with a ton of back and forth, maybe because you’ve got a super busy schedule, think about adding some tools into the action. Doodle is great, or if this is a really big deal for you, check out something like Acuity, and let people book themselves into your calendar on their own.
Do your homework! But don’t be a creeper.
Knowing a little something about the person you’re meeting with is an advantage. So go ahead, troll them a little. Check out their website. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile, maybe. Just enough so you are going into this convo with some background. You can maybe even flash a little knowledge during your chat to show you’ve got a little hustle invested there.
But be careful – there’s a fine line between someone who did a little homework and a full on stalker. Spend no more than a half an hour learning about the person; that’s plenty. If they find out that you know the names of their kids and their childhood pets, you might as well wear a t-shirt that says “Creeper”.
Avoid time wasting screwups: double check
Whether you get the time or the location wrong, or the other person does, or whatever, nothing sucks quite like getting stood up. It’s the worst, and I know, because I’ve been there. Tons of times.
The one simple trick that can save you from this gruesome fate 9 times out of 10 is the meeting confirmation. Send a quick message within 24 h of the meeting time, just checking that you’re still on, and that you both have the same idea about time and place.
If you want to be ninja-level about this, you can throw in a little compliment while you’re at it. One of my favourite clients always phrases her confirmations like the meeting is the highlight of her week; “So looking forward to chatting tomorrow! See you at X Cafe at 1:00”. Boss move.
If you are NOT the kind of person who remembers stuff like this, you can set a reminder in your calendar. If you’re truly useless at it, tools like Acuity will do it for you automatically. Bang. Problem solved. Er… prevented. You know what I mean.
By the way, don’t harass the other person until they respond. That’s some dentist’s office-level obnoxious right there. Just send the one message. The rest is in the hands of fate.
BE. ON. TIME.
Geez Louise, I cannot say this enough. Be on time, be on time, seriously, be on time. Here, I’ll try it in some other languages, just to make sure the message is getting through. Llega a tiempo. Arrivez a temps. SERIOUSLY.
Especially if it’s the first time you’re getting a one on one with this person, being late is going to put a massive dent in their impression of you. If you want them to think you’re irresponsible, unreliable, and disrespectful, being late is a great way to start. Otherwise, get there on time. Get there a little early if you can, even.
Make sure you know how the heck long it’s going to take to get to the place you’re meeting. Make sure you know what the parking situation, if you’re driving. Do what you gotta do, friends, but get this one right or you’re going to have a lot of ground to make up in terms of your cred with this person.
Whew! All that just to get you to the meeting in the first place. That’s probably enough for one blog post, so let’s pick this back up next time, shall we, friends? Tune in then to find out how to avoid tanking the actual coffee meeting. Call me crazy, but I think you can probably rock it pretty hard, with a little help from us here at WHN.
If you’re in Edmonton, sign up to join us for the next We Hate Networking monthly meetup, where we learn and work on networking skills for people who hate networking in a structured and painless way.