It’s the most overused and sometimes the most annoying question in the business world: “Would you like to catch up for coffee?”
Why? Because essentially what it means is “I want to pick your brain as much as possible without paying for it.” However, it is still a wonderful connecting strategy IF it is implemented correctly.
So how do you ask to meet someone for coffee effectively – and on the flip side, how do you ensure that you aren’t being used when someone else asks you.
When you ask…
First things first: What’s in it for them?
Yes, you may have a great idea or you are eager to connect with the CEO of another company – although you need to appreciate how busy people are. They don’t have time to spend 30 minutes or even 10 minutes with someone where they see no value in doing so.
Therefore you need to create the value for them. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you ask them for their time:
- What need do they have to fill that you can offer to do for free?
- How can they leverage you, or working with you, to make them more money with less effort?
- How can you help them build their profile?
- Are you able to assist them in an area they are passionate in (like a charity)?
To achieve the above you need to do your research. You need to make sure your profile and website is up to date and you know enough about the other person to be able to impress them enough to say yes to you.
When you are asked…
I am frequently asked to catch up for coffee and it absolutely floors me that 99% of the time they don’t tell me what is in it for me.
Even when asked, they seem a little stumped as to why I won’t meet with them just because they asked. I take coffee catch-ups seriously.
I take all contact seriously.
I therefore need to ensure that everything I do is strategic and will add value. If this happens to you, simply thank that person for the contact and ask them why they want to meet with you specifically – aka “how do you think I can add value to your business” – and also ask them what is in it for you. There is nothing wrong with asking this, by the way.
This is a business transaction. They are asking something of you, so you need to identify what you receive in return.
Now one snag is when people ask to meet with you to discuss your services. This is a manipulative way to get you to share ideas with the prospect – and often they have no intention of hiring you.
Solution? There are a couple. Ask for a phone conversation first and ask questions and only answer in context not content.
Agree not to a ‘catch-up’ but to an ‘initial consultation’ for a set pre-paid fee that is redeemable if they go ahead with the contract/project.
Amanda Rose is the only ‘strategic connector’ in Australia, a Brand Strategist, Speaker, Host of Amanda Rose TV, Founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Quoted as an “internet winning blogger” by TIME.com. Follow Amanda on Twitter.