What’s a Coffee Meeting?
It’s when you network with someone over coffee.
Why would you do that?
To grow your business and expand your referral network.
What do you mean by “network with someone?”
Networking consists of two equally important goals:
1. Clearly understand what the other person does.
2. Clearly communicate what you do.
Communicating what you do, as you might guess, is your Elevator Pitch… but NOT your 30-Second Elevator Pitch.
When you’re sitting across the table from an actual person, that’s the time to tell stories.
Tell stories about your favorite customer, a recent client success, and how you got started doing what you’re doing.
Remember the difference between a networking meeting and a sales meeting is…
At a sales meeting you are, well, selling.
At a networking meeting (also called a 1-to-1) you are teaching the other person how to prospect for you.
Did you catch that?
The big opportunity is to develop trust so that person thinks of you when they meet a good prospect for you.
Of course, networking is a two-way street. So while they are prospecting for you, you are also prospecting for them.
So you have to understand what they do.
Here are three great questions to ask at a 1-to-1:
“What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on?”
This gives you insight into the work they most like doing. They might answer with something related to their business. They also might talk about volunteer work or their kids or their military service or their favorite hobby. That’s good. That’s how you get to know people.
“Can you tell me about a recent client success?”
If you’ve been reading my emails for a while, you already know that a specific client success story is the key for any effective Elevator Pitch. And yet beware. People are so programmed to give you generalities, that you may need to guide them gently towards an actual specific customer. I had a client just last week, who, every time I asked him to tell me about a client success, he said something like “I just like finding out what clients need and then helping them grow their business.”
So here’s the next phrase: “That sounds great. So, can you tell me about a specific client and how you helped them grow their business?”
Whether I’m coaching someone or sitting down for a 1-to-1, I frequently have to ask them two or three times to describe a specific client. Be pleasant and persistent, because without this information you won’t really have any idea how to introduce them to anyone. Eventually they’ll say something like “Oh, ok. I was working with a construction company…” That’s when you start taking notes.
“Wow! Can you tell me more about…?”
Ask them a follow up question to keep them talking. That’s how you get to know people.
Remember that a follow up questions is:
1. Open Ended
2. Related to something that was just said
So if they mention downhill skiing, you can’t ask about golf or swimming or tennis. You can ask how they got started downhill skiing. You can ask what they like most about downhill skiing. You can ask them to tell you their favorite downhill skiing story.
The best way to learn about someone is to have a conversation with them. Ask questions and tell stories.
What your favorite question for getting to know people?