Everyone talks about social media networking, but old fashioned face-to-face time is necessary to develop meaningful, deep personal and professional relationships. But who has the time and the money to regularly meet potential referral sources for lunch? A business lunch with a potential referral source can take two hours and cost $60. A business coffee meeting can take 20-30 minutes and $8. If you’re trying to develop business on a budget with a tight schedule, invite others to your local coffee shop before the business day starts. For the cost of one lunch, you can have seven coffee meet and greets and do them in the same amount of time it would take to go to two lunches.
For the cost of one lunch, you can have seven coffee meet and greets and do them in the same amount of time it would take to go to two lunches.
I work in the Brickell area and regularly meet with potential referral sources at Bistro Bakery, a breakfast spot across the street from my office. I meet them between 7:30 and 9 am, for about a half hour. The restaurant is generally empty until about 9:30 a.m, allowing me and my contacts to have our coffee in peace and free from waiters trying to rush us out the door.
This one on one time, before the work day starts, over a cup of coffee, with neither of us wasting time deciding what to order and spending most of the meeting eating, is a great alternative to lunch. Your contact is less likely to check her phone during an early coffee meeting, you’ll be less inclined to check yours and there is less chance for a last minute cancellation. Who of us hasn’t received a last minute email or voicemail from a contact saying they have to cancel lunch because of a work related emergency? These emergencies are less likely to occur before the work day starts.
In addition to your local café or restaurant, your local Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or Panera works too. Keep in mind, though, that these places get crowded in the morning, so if you’re going to choose these spots, the earlier your meet, the better.
And whom do I reach out to? Well, getting back to my initial comment about social media, I am active on LinkedIn, and transfer those online relationships to personal ones, by inviting some of those contacts to coffee. When I’m in town, I try to schedule at least two coffee meetings each week. With Bistro Bakery across the street, and with purchasing only two cups of coffee during these meetings, 8-10 coffee meetings a month is less time consuming and expensive than you think.
Take the time to start reaching out to potential referral sources and ask them for a cup of coffee. It’s the best use of your time and has the highest ROI for your marketing dollars.