Yesterday was unique for me in terms of social media consumption. (I’m typically a Facebook and Twitter junkie, constantly sharing and posting via those platforms.) Yesterday, I decided to peak in to LinkedIn and was delightfully intrigued. The headline is what struck me:
It read, “Why I Say NO to Coffee Meetings.”
Interestingly enough, I’d recently received a very angry email from someone who had requested to meet with me for coffee—with no explanation as to what we’d be talking about or why we’d need to meet—and had been politely turned down. I was taken aback by the rude tone of the email, but I was more concerned about whether I’d done something wrong or created an enemy simply because I had to say no.
Reading the LinkedIn blog, written by a Canadian entrepreneur, was quite timely. She writes:
I used to do a lot of coffee meetings—some weeks two or three. These would add up to at least 5 hours (sometimes more, depending on chattiness and travel). What was accomplished? What did I gain? I drank some great (and not so great) coffee and tea. I collected a bunch of business cards. But, did I gain any new business? No. I actually tracked all these coffee meetings for a year and not one led to anything that improved my bottom line. So, if I average three hours a week at these meetings, I spent 150 hours last year having coffee and “chatting”. Kind of shocking isn’t it? 150 hours—what could YOU do with that extra time.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love having coffee dates and chatting – with my friends. I even don’t mind it if there is potential for future business or a joint venture. But as I get older, and my time more precious I realize that I need to be very careful (and strategic) about how I spend my time.
The responses were pretty mixed—some quite brutal—with many debating the effectiveness of coffee meetings, time management tactics, and what truly makes a good networking experience.
I’d have to say I 100% agree with the blog’s sentiments, and I’m thankful that I’m not the only professional in the world saying no when I just simply don’t have the time or wish to seek a more effective way to leverage a connection (ie. Skype meetings, email correspondences or networking events.) I’m not totally against coffee meetings—I’ve had many and continue to have them—but effective time management is about not overextending oneself. It’s not only good for business, but my sanity.
Everybody has a bottom line, and though we’d all like to meet with every potential leader or partner, sometimes the time is just not there—or even right. Networking is about give-and-take and one must be strategic, especially leaders and influencers.
I’d say to any young professional who wants that coveted sit-down, don’t neglect to ask, but understand that the person you’re asking may have other obligations. Furthermore, they may not even be appropriate or available in the capacity you need them to be.
Be polite, keep in touch, and don’t take it personal. If you really feel deep down in your gut that you have to get a meeting with this person, find other ways to build a relationship before making the ask.
Vote below and tell us your opinion: Are coffee meetings effective networking or a waste of time?