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Are you having any coffee chats or are you having too many coffee chats?  There are so many opportunities to meet in the office for coffee or at many great venues!   Add the lunches, dinners and gala’s we attend and it seems like the face-to-face time still works well.

Most of the coffee places have WiFi so you can always be plugged in when waiting for your guest or linger longer afterward to stay in touch.  Put the phone away during the coffee chat!   I catch myself glancing at the phone during these chats and have set a goal to break this habit.

Why have a coffee chat?  It’s usually not about selling or buying anything.   It’s about developing a relationship, getting to know each other both professionally and on a personal level.  These relationships lead to business opportunities and lead to referrals.

You can have a coffee chat simply to know more about a person, their business or cause.  It does not always have to be about business.   Many of my coffee chats have been about making a difference, helping others grow their business and giving back to the community.  New organizations have been formed and inspired by some of these coffee chats!

The social aspect of business is face-to-face.  This is the best forum to build relationships.  The phone and video conferencing/face-time are the next best thing.   Make an effort to see and be with your clients, prospects and associates.   Attend events and support causes. and then follow-up with an invitation to continue the discussion over a coffee.

How much business should you discuss at the coffee chat or lunch?   Set the agenda ahead of time.  The business portion is usually the smallest part of the chat.   Some like to dive right into it, some like to chat somewhere in the middle of the conversation while others wait until the very end.  Make your intentions known up front if there is going to be a specific business conversation.

Reminder:   Bring business cards!   There have been several new connections I have met lately without any business cards.   One responded he was not in sales.   All of us are in sales.  Hey, that’s worth repeating:   All of us are in sales.   The key is to have the other person buy not sell.   They are buying you, your relationship first, then your company and then your product/service.  Ponder that for a moment.

Keep building your connections and have more coffee chats or face-to-face chats or use  the phone when not realistic to meet.   We were out for a dinner with another couple and two of the people we bumped into ended up wanting a call to discuss business.    This outing created two new opportunities just by being out for dinner.  I joke that my full-time job is coffee chats, lunches, dinners and gala’s!  Opportunities are all around us.

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