I love working out of coffee shops but over the years I’ve realized that business meetings in coffee shops can sometimes be very awkward. You probably already know the situation: Busy Person A is meeting Busy Person B that got referred by busy person C (who will no longer be a part of this example). Busy Person A arrives to the coffee shop either right on time or within the acceptable tardy period (typically 1-5 minutes, which does not require a phone call or text to notify other party). As Busy Person A walks through the door they frantically look for Busy Person B, only to go up to Unfortunate Random Guy D who mistakenly made eye contact with the nervous person that just walked into the coffee shop. Seeing the whole situation occur, Busy Person B walks up to Busy Person A and introduces himself with a smirk.
Then both parties walk to the counter in “the walk of uncertainty.” The big question that will shortly be answered is, “Who will pay?” There are three main factors that go into this decision:
1. Social Standing- Does one person make significantly more than the other?
2. Cost of Selection- Is one person going to get a Dark Roast for $1.76 while the other gets a $5.76 Frappuccino?
3. Who Called this Meeting- Where, as the title indicates, if you asked for the meeting, you pay for the meeting. (This is the most Important factor, but either of the above selections can override this)
Often there is a “Card Shuffle” between people and one person “wins” and gets to pay… but only after having a playful argument as to who should pay. But, since so many meetings occur in coffee shops, shouldn’t there be an easier way? If you follow these 6 Easy Coffee Shop Steps that I do with my coffee shop meetings, I can guarantee that your next one will go a ton better. Here’s the plan:
1. Email or call them the day before to let them know that you will be getting there a few minutes early to get a table, and if you do not know what they look like, try to describe a few of your features and what you might wear.
2. On the day of the meeting, get there 15 minutes early and secure a table- Don’t pull out a laptop though… keep that tucked in your bag if you will need it during the meeting. Instead have a notebook with a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Write the date and the name of the person that you will be meeting with on the top left. (It’s horrible to forget the name of the person mid-meeting).
3. Go up and get a coffee. Then sit back down in front of your notebook and wait for the person to arrive. You can have a second notebook handy in case you want to work on something else while you wait, but DO NOT take a phone call (unless it is from them or a number that might be them) or get on your computer to start work that cannot be interrupted.
4. When they arrive and look around for you, stand up, grab your coffee with your left hand, walk up to them and shake their hand while smiling and saying their name. If they have things in their hands, walk them back to the table and tell them that you got there a bit early to look over some things, but as they put their stuff down, pull out your credit card (or frequently-used coffee shop gift card) and say “Let’s go grab you something to drink.” They will love that you took charge of the situation.
5. Walk up to them in line, make small talk, take a sip of your drink and before giving your card for payment, ask if they would like anything to eat also. They will probably say “No,” but you cared enough to ask.
6. Wait for the drink to be made, then walk back to the table, continue small talk and at the right moment, pick up your pen and turn the notebook page to the page with the date and their name, and begin the meeting.
If you follow these 6 steps, I can guarantee that you will accomplish more in the coffee-meetings and that the person will want to meet with you again… hopefully that means more sales.
Can you think of any good ways to have a business meeting over a meal?