Some people reading this will immediately think this is a sacrilegious article about cutting out coffee. I promise you, I am not talking about not drinking coffee. I think I could possibly die without my coffee. No, I am referring to cutting out “Coffee Meetings”. And not all “Coffee Meetings”. Just the ones you don’t need to be attending.
As somebody who teaches referral marketing, I sure did get tired of having coffee all the time. It seemed like everybody I came in contact with wanted to meet for coffee. It got to a point where I was having several coffees a day and never getting any business done. Sadly, many of the people I was having coffee with were only having coffee with me because that was the only way they knew how to “appear busy”.
After hundreds of coffees and an Inbox full of unanswered emails, it occurred to me that this didn’t work. I needed to change something. Now, when somebody I don’t know says, “Let’s meet for coffee,” my initial reaction is usually, “Let’s schedule a phone call first.” There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, that is now my response.
As a referral marketing coach, one of the things I encourage my clients to do is not spin their wheels and waste their time. I need to adhere to that principle myself. I also don’t want the people that asked me to coffee to waste their time. You see, it can become a habit to automatically say, “Let’s grab coffee.” A bad habit, in my not-so-humble opinion.
Why do you want to grab coffee? What do you think we will accomplish by grabbing coffee? What is going to happen during that coffee meeting that maybe couldn’t get accomplished over a 15 minute phone call?
Having a coffee with somebody involves several activities. First, you have to pick a place and a time to have that coffee. If not done right when you first met, that could take several emails or texts. You also have to drive to and from the place where the meeting will be held. Now you’re committed to anywhere from 60 to 90 of your day. GONE. And often during that coffee, you realize, “This is a complete waste of my time. This person will never be able to refer me business, nor will I ever be able to refer her business. Why am I here?”
You could have figured that out over a short phone call. If during a 15 minute phone call I realize this is somebody I want to get to know better, THEN I might say, “Hey! Let’s grab coffee! I see we have a lot more to talk about.”
Take control of your time. Don’t allow others to dictate your schedule. Having coffee several times a day means that you are either letting somebody dictate your schedule or even worse, you are avoiding the real work that will help grow your business.
Unless, of course, your business is selling coffee! Then have lots and lots of coffee meetings.
As you may have experienced, some people are persistent about meeting in person. Fine. But if they truly want to meet, they will have to work around my schedule and meet at a location that is convenient to me. Sometimes I will stack two or three coffee meetings around a specific meeting with a client or referral partner. Prior to the meetings, I will communicate clearly with each person how long our meeting will last. That way, there will be no surprises when I have to stop or someone else I am expecting walks in.
Reserve your time for your referral partners, referral sources, prospects, clients and vendors. If you have a system for strategically giving and receiving referrals, then you won’t have to spin your wheels, wasting money and a lot of time in frivolous coffee meetings. Instead, by meeting with the right people, your time will be well spent and you will earn more money.