I talk a TON about going out of your comfort zone to meet new people and why it's important for your business (and if you need a little plan of attack on how to do that, drop your email in the box below and snag my 'Non-Sleazy Networking' worksheet).
However, sometimes we go about networking the wrong way. We all do it, and there's no shame in it, but sometimes, people take networking a liiiiittle too far.
Over the last week, I've had a few people (by this I mean two potential clients and a well meaning online individual from across the country that is part of an online program I'm taking) reach out to me with an interest in "networking." They want to simply "meet me" and "discuss business" and "get to know my business better."
So we should definitely have coffee and hang out for an hour right? Or we should schedule some time to video chat, right?
Maybe if you're in the VERY beginning of your business, and people reach out and want to get to know you and you literally have no contacts...mayyyybe then it's okay.
But if you've got some existing clients and are well on your way to business growth, you need to protect your time my friend.
Here's the ONE thing you need to do to every single person who asks you out for a coffee meeting:
Ask them what they're hoping to get out of the meeting
A lot of times people will say:
"I just want to meet you!"
"I really want to pick your brain."
"I just want to get together and brainstorm some ideas about how we can work together."
"I want to know how you can help me."
My friend, these are all signs that this person is well-intentioned, but not a great fit for you to spend time on.
Because people who don't have explicit goals going into coffee meetings almost always end up not having a concrete outcome. Sure, they get to know you, you get to know them, but don't we all have websites for that reason? Aren't we all trying to save a little more time so we can do things like go to bed at a reasonable hour?
When I was early in my career, I took these meetings often. I would generally leave about a cup of coffee poorer, with no tangible outcome or collaboration impetus.
Unless you know someone well enough OR they pitch you with a specific project (something along the lines of "I want to collaborate with you on a project; can we discuss it on a phone call?") OR they know exactly what they need help with, you're going to be doing a whole lot of coaching and detective work and not a whole lot of benefitting.
This isn't to say that these people are bad: more than likely they're unfamiliar with appropriate ways to network, or they don't realize that just because they have a free few hours, doesn't mean everyone does.
So here's what you say instead when someone emails you to meet up or have a call for no specific reason.
"Hey there! Thanks so much for contacting me. I appreciate you reaching out.
What exactly would you like to discuss and how can I help you the most? I'm limited with 1:1 coffee meetings, but I always want to help people in my community by pointing them to a good resource or directing them to a blog post if they have questions.
What do you need help with, and how can I help with that?"
If there's no concrete answer or the answer isn't something you can help with (also fine!), then you've got to pass. Your time, your clients, and your bank account relies on it.