Having coffee is essential to a successful career. Meeting someone for coffee or a meal is a great way to make new contacts or reconnect with friends, colleagues and connections.
There are rules for a coffee meeting that are important to be aware of for successful networking:
- If you are asking someone else for coffee, the other person should pick a place and time convenient for him or her.
- Be on time. Obvious I know.
- Offer to buy coffee for the other person.
- Pick a table or location where it is easy to hear the other person. Tables in the middle of Starbucks or near the barista can be extremely noisy.
- DO ask for advice. Everyone loves to talk about him or herself, tell you their story and provide advice.
- DON’T ask for referrals to people. Generally, a person offers to make a referral. A referral is currency. People tend to make referrals for people who are strong connections where making a referral is helpful to his or her relationship with the other person. A cold referral is meaningless and often puts the person you are having coffee with in an awkward position.
- DON’T ask people whom you don’t have a deep relationship with for referrals to investors. It doesn’t work. If you are raising money, get referrals from people who know you well, mentors, investors in your company, board members or company advisors. If the person you meet likes you OR likes the concept of your company, they will offer to make introductions to investors during or after your meeting.
There are probably others and I will keep updating this over time. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.