Business Networking Tips Part 6 - How to Run a Successful Follow-Up Coffee Meeting
So, having explained how to prepare your follow-up coffee meeting, we’ll now show you how to get the most from it.
We’ve stressed before how you need to plan your business networking activities, and a follow-up coffee meeting is no different. If you want to get real value from the experience, you can’t just turn up and wing it.
But before we go into the planning, we should say something about the best format for the meeting. Regarding time, thirty minutes is ideal. That way you both have 15 minutes to explain what you do and what you’re looking for.
At the beginning, ask what your coffee companion wants to order and offer to pay, but don’t labour over it. We suggest you stick to a drink – you won’t look professional chomping on a tuna mayo toastie.
So, here are seven things to remember – and they all conveniently begin with the letter ‘R’.
Take time to review your coffee companion’s online presence. That way you (and they) can avoid wasting time on obvious questions and derive some real value from the meeting.
Prepare and rehearse a few clear questions, based on your research, that might prompt their awareness about the type of business you’re looking for. Remember, it’s all about the network they regularly face.
3. Respect Their Time
Don’t be late! Every business person prizes their time very highly. Waste five minutes of it and the meeting is pretty much void. You should end the meeting on time too – or at least indicate when time’s up, so they can choose whether or not to overrun.
4. Referrals Are What You’re Seeking, Not Leads
A lead is just a name and number, and you can get that anywhere. A referral indicates a commitment that there’s business to be done and that you’ve been personally recommended to do it. It should sound something like this: “Okay, I’ll call Janet at XY Systems and confirm that she wants to speak with you about their widget requirement”.
5. Record Action Points
Take a pen and notebook and jot down all action points – yours and theirs.
Afterwards, make a note in your diary to follow up on the action points and gently remind the other person to do likewise.
Finally, if the meeting results in some lucrative business, get back in touch.
More Small Business Guide
When meeting business contacts in casual settings, stay alert to subtleties that can lead to opportunities.
Think of networking events not as one-off sales opportunities but as the foundations for new connections.