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ROI of Your Coffee Meetings: When and How to Say No

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Bizly

Apr 26, 2016

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2 min read

A coffee meeting can lead to an amazing opportunity — or be a total time-suck disguised as a pleasant conversation. For a couple years, business writers have been buzzing about whether it’s wise to stop taking coffee meeting requests altogether. This of course is for you to decide, but it may be time to ask again the cold-hard question: Has the time invested in those coffee requests truly paid off?

In a post on LinkedIn that went viral, entrepreneur Wendy McClelland analyzed her calendar. “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?”

Some networking requests result in obvious ROI: a new business opportunity, a partnership, etc. And to be fair, there are other “softer” types of payback, too. These include:

  • the simple satisfaction of giving, especially when helping someone whose shoes you were in once

  • future value in an ongoing business relationship, or even

  • fulfillment in developing a personal friendship.

Chances are, though, if the meeting does not result in action beyond the thank-you note, there’s absolutely no ROI for you or your business.

To gracefully decline a request, marketing expert Michael Hyatt invokes a “no sandwich.” He recommends to begin with encouragement or a positive note. Then state clearly that “in order to be faithful to existing commitments” you cannot fulfill the request. Finally, offer something of value — an article you’ve written on a relevant topic or a link to another resource. Hyatt also recommends using an email template — with personalization — for all these requests, which removes the angst from writing.

In addition to the flat-out no thank-youAlison Green suggests alternatives. One is to schedule a 10-minute phone call instead. This allows the connection to happen but on a more efficient basis.

Or there’s the interim exchange tactic. Ximena Vengoechea writes that she sometimes offers to answer a few questions by email: “Explain that this can help them get off the ground without having to wait for your schedule to clear up.” Also, any suggestion for the requestor to take an action often stops right there. Most people will not follow up. Time-suck solved.

Positive coffee-request ROI requires clarity and confidence. Look for requests that add value and master the kind no, and the meetings you do take will enhance your business rather than distract from it.

Bizly is a platform for instantly booking private meeting rooms at leading hotels. Browse and book online here. Download the app here. (Android coming soon.) At Bizly we’re all about amazing meetings that move business forward.

bizly-image

Bizly

Apr 26, 2016

|

2 min read

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