Are Your Coffee Meetings Really Working?

graphics-agenda-603334Do you treat your coffee meetings as a true business activity or is it more social? Business owners know that networking is part of growing their companies, but how can they make outside meetings even more productive? I get this question a lot and here are three ideas to consider before and during your next coffee chat.

I love meeting new people as much as everyone else. However when it comes to business, true success comes from choosing actions that support the end goal, not actions that distract and delay success. Productive people focus on the right actions at the right time – they value their resources and spend them on actions that produce strong outcomes. This includes meetings.

Before you schedule or accept your next outside meeting, consider doing these three items to ensure the meeting is valuable and productive for you and the other person:

  • Both parties should agree on the business goals of the meeting – In the corporate world, most meetings are held for a specific reason and have a set duration. Besides lunches, there are limited meetings planned just to be social and drink coffee. Small business owners could have even more success by mirroring how corporations run meetings. What is the exact goal for meeting? If there isn’t a specific purpose other than to get to know the person, it might be better to catch up when you are both at the same networking event versus a meeting with no specific intent. Simple compare upcoming calendars and decide when you will both be at the same place.
  • Determine if the other person can fill a gap in your network – knowing a variety of people is a huge asset to every business. Diversity not only keeps things fresh, but exposes us to new thinking and ideas. I find it helpful to actively seek out people who work in areas that I don’t have in my network yet. These are the people that I schedule in-person meetings with to learn more and determine how we can help each other. If you get meeting requests from people in the same professions you already have in your inner circle, perhaps it makes more sense to do phone calls instead of face to face meetings. Or, meet them at networking events as suggested above.
  • Structure the meeting to be highly efficient – since you already set the agenda and goals ahead of time, come very prepared to meet those goals.   In addition, I always print my one-sheet that describes what I do, who I serve, who I don’t serve, and how people can partner with me so we both grow our businesses. The one-sheet is a great marketing piece and more likely to be read then notes scribbled on paper by the other person. People leave with something in their hand which they can refer to when we aren’t together. Like corporate meetings, agree on next steps and/or action items. It’s best to complete as many action items as you can when you are with the other person so you don’t have to do them later (or forget about them). If you committed to send something by email or make an introduction, pull out your computer and do it right then so it gets done. I used to write down things in a notebook to address later, but found that made me busier, not productive. Taking care of things right at the meeting works best.

I realize my targeted approach to accepting meetings might be offensive to some people. There are a few people who only want to meet in person and just talk without a set objective. I get that, but found that can be a very poor use of resources.

At my February workshop, I shared the hourly wage of a millionaire is roughly $524/hour. Business owners that strive to build highly successful companies follow the 524 rule – spending time on activities that generate revenue to serve more people and delegate the other actions to someone else. Including prep time, drive time, and meeting time, one coffee meeting can consume 3 hours of your day. Are you generating at least $1,572 worth of business at each coffee meeting because you are with the right person and have an agenda? If not, it might be time to re-think your coffee strategy to make it more focused.

As a productivity expert, I help people focus on what works and stop doing what doesn’t. Out of integrity, I eat my own cooking. Accepting in-person meetings with everyone who asks but doesn’t have a specific business purpose no longer works for me. I’m happy to talk to those people by phone. Given the same hour, I can connect with more people virtually than by meeting just one person for coffee. There are so many technical alternatives available versus meeting in person. I like Skype, google hangouts, and the basic telephone.

Time is a very precious resource and like money, needs to be managed very closely. I consistently help my clients gain at least one more hour in their day. If you loved these ideas, check out more with my newly released Productivity Accelerator Success System. This digital product has proven techniques to move you from busy to productive. READ MORE HERE.


Ready to systemize your business so it runs without you? Are you manually doing the same activities over and over which is draining your available free time? Can you take a vacation without checking in on your company? If not, come join me in Denver on Friday, March 18 at the Ultimate Business Boot Camp session II: Create Automated Systems and a Power Team.  You can claim your seat and get started HERE.  It’s a must attend workshop that will help you have even more success in 2016!

Nancy Gaines

Nancy Gaines is CEO/Founder of Gain Advantages Inc. and has been advising small businesses and Fortune 100 companies how to increase revenues through proven systems for almost two decades. She is a best-selling author and international keynote speaker. Nancy has been named in the Top 100 Productivity Experts to follow on Twitter and has a global podcast downloaded in over 95 countries. Her main focus is creating business processes with actionable steps so her clients achieve more consistency, ease, and ultimate success.