As we all get back to work and more consistent with meeting in person, I thought it might be a good time to give you my 5 favorite tips for coffee meetings. My hope is that at least one of these is something you aren’t doing or haven’t tried. Of course we want to make these meetings count… especially with the perspective that we have to “suit up and show up” to go to a coffee meeting in person. We’ve all gotten used to saving time by doing Zoom calls and not having to drive to as many meetings.
How many times have you been waiting for someone to join you and when they arrive (late) they tell you something happened but they didn’t have your cell phone number. They would have texted you what was going on and their ETA if they would have had it. So why not make sure both numbers are easy to get to?
When I go to a coffee meeting, I have done my homework on LinkedIn first. That way, when we sit down together, I can bring up one or two things I saw on their profile. This usually makes the person you’re meeting feel good because you obviously took the extra time. It solidifies their impression that you are taking the meeting seriously, that you were looking forward to connecting, and that you are a professional.
If you talk the entire hour, you will make the person you are meeting feel that all you care about is yourself! Okay, maybe it’s not that you talked the whole time… but if your inner voice says, “hey… they haven’t said anything for a while.” Pay attention to that and turn the conversation over to them.
When there is a break in the conversation, it might be a good time to summarize what you heard them say. Even better is if you have some of your own input related to what they were saying. For example, if they grew up in Wichita and have always been in banking, I might say, “Oh! I grew up in Wichita also. And I know XYZ bank… in fact, I banked there as a kid!” Active listening will help you lock in details of your conversation with someone you’re meeting for the first time.
Thank them for taking the time to meet in the form of a LinkedIn invitation to connect. Efficient, right? When I get to my car after a coffee meeting, I open the LinkedIn app on my cell and send them an invitation to connect. (Be careful and click the three dots so that you can personalize the invite from a mobile device.) This reinforces the feeling that it was a good meeting and that you want to continue the conversation.