Although my footer states furniture, my history is broad and encompasses small business, franchise, finance and telecommunications and although i have been 'absent' from each field in a corporate sense for some years i am still regularly contacted to 'catch up' for a coffee. Actually probably once a fortnight.
Unfortunately, with my current commitments to drop what i am doing (including watching movies
) and drive into town for a coffee is really unproductive for me, even if it is for a free feed and the likes.
**These comments need to be premised with - friends are different, i clearly know who are my mates and whom i am happy to undertake numerous coffees with - regardless of expectations.
Having worked in fields that were relatively fast paced, i learnt quickly to be a bit more on the front foot when being asked for a coffee by a client, contact or supplier and the basics of what i would ask really drew on the How, What, Where, When and Why questioning in order to probe a little further in why they want a coffee.
Questions may include:
- Hows business?
- What are you up to lately? any new business projects on the go?
- Why do you want to catch up for a coffee? common answer, just to say Gday. If thats that case i then proceed with - so who's paying? if they say they will shout, i make a joke and say well if your paying you must want something out of me... but i can sort of get away with this one and probably not the best for everyone...
- Hows sales and what direction are you heading?
- Where are you working now? (sometimes there has been a large gap in contact with me)
When it comes down to it, and once i establish it is a 'business chat' i generally comment about the coffee and looking forward to it.. then say... 'by the way, as we are friends i know a great business coach (or whatever is needed) that i can happily put forward to you as i personally find it difficult to ask such a close friend (remember you might not have seen them for months or years) some form of remuneration for my expertise. What time do you wanna catch up next week? cant wait to chat about family, holidays and how youve been.."
This approach can weed out those wanting to drain your brain and use your expertise for nicks... those that can understand you in business, and really do want your input for $$$ will progress... i have found over the years, that my above approach has allowed me to save face a little without putting up a major road block...
Most important aspect of this way though.... is to ensure you do not partake in business chatter at coffee.. unless its mutual and exploratory with a potential to move onto $$$ in your pocket.. If it gets 'intense' over coffee and they are drilling for free info, just have that card ready to hand to them for a referral to someone else you know as per your phone chat above and let them know you have already spoken to the person about them and they are awaiting your call...
It is tough, each person will handle it different.. when i worked for the large telco's, ALL OF MY BUSINESS was conducted in a coffee shop.. i basically had an office behind their counter with stationary and the likes and would sit in the restaurant/cafe for up to 8 hours a day meeting after meeting... very social, so trust me, i had to adjust and to say NO
to a free coffee was unnatural...
Good luck, love to hear how you tackle this moving forward and would love some other inputs on how everyone personally handles these situations as i am sure all of us could potentially learn something a lil dif here..
Cheers and thanks for the great post..