The real purpose of meeting people for coffee

This is the fourth installment of the 8 easy-to-make networking mistakes that can be avoided series.

This week I’m going over two mistakes:

  1. I assumed coffee meetings were only for selling your service/product.
  2. I didn’t do follow-up calls with people I met or set up coffee meetings.

Because I assumed that meeting people for coffee was only for selling your service or product, that was the energy I put out there. Part of that was because I really did want people to meet with me to find out more about what I did and then buy from me.

The result was, aside from Robin (who knew how to network, offered great advice and referred me to my current accountant), 90% of the coffee meetings I went to were people doing their sales pitch. I rationalized that it was okay because I expected it.

And because I was primarily meeting with only people who wanted me to buy their things, calling them later or having another coffee meeting never even crossed my mind. After all, I still wasn’t interested in their service or product (remember I thought coffee meetings were to sell your service/product).

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who have been networking for years and believe that coffee meetings and follow-up phone calls ARE only about selling your service/product.

And some of them have built fairly successful businesses doing that. Here’s what I’ve noticed though, they constantly have to find new places to network.

Why? Because they get the reputation of being that guy who just wants to sell you their stuff. Then their potential for sales quickly plummets and they have to find somewhere else to network where they don’t have that reputation or encourages that kind of thing.

I don’t know about you, but that method of sales seems completely exhausting to me. Seriously, I’d rather get another job working for someone else – I’d feel less icky at the end of the day.

So, what’s the alternative look like?

The real purpose of meeting people for coffee is:

  • Getting to know the other person and their business
  • Discovering who their ideal client is
  • Finding out what resources they might need

The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. - Keith FerrazziBasically, the purpose of coffee meetings are to build business relationships, friendships even.

And you do that by being curious about the other person. Who do they serve, why do they serve them? What do they like about what they do?

You continue to build that relationship by doing follow-up calls and coffee meetings later. Discover what new things are happening for them and their business. Learn if something has changed.

Your business relationships are built by continuing the conversation over time, just like any other relationship.

I invite you to share something a little different – share what your best coffee meeting was and why it was the best. If you don’t have an example that springs to mind, share what you think it would look like in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The real purpose of meeting people for coffee

  1. My best and most memorable ones are in quaint and different locations. One time a girl and I went walking by my house in a beautiful forest preserve. Another was before a networking meeting. We just shared ourselves with each other and it really helped me understand myself better.

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