Why saying ‘no’ to a coffee meeting can be good for business

When it comes to meeting clients IRL, don't be too quick to say 'yes'. As Robert Gerrish tells Lucy, do some research, respect your own time, and your clients will follow suit.


When you run a small business your time is your money, right?

And that’s never more true when it comes to having client meetings away from your home office.

It can be so easy to say yes when a client or potential client suggests meeting for a coffee, but as founder of Flying Solo Robert Gerrish explains, you may be better off holding off and doing your homework first.

Getting the confidence to say ‘no’ to a meeting can be hard at first.

“When you’re starting out you find yourself wanting to say ‘yes’ to anyone who wants to meet you,” says Robert. “But it’s much better to step back a bit and learn to value your time.”

Instead of readily saying ‘yes’ to your new contact’s offer of a coffee, Robert suggests considering a ‘phone call first’ strategy.

“It’s a bit like a screener. You give the person a call and suggest that you have a chat before you decide to meet up in person. This ensures that you are actually the right fit for each other, and that when you do meet you have a plan in place and don’t waste time getting to the point,” says Robert.

After that initial phone call, then you can feel free to meet up and have a longer meeting if you so choose…and if you’ve set it up efficiently, the financial clock may already be ticking.

When you do meet up, Robert suggests implementing some strong boundaries around the time you spend.

“If you decide to meet up, then be careful that you watch the time. If you say you’ll meet for half an hour, then stick to it. Otherwise the next time you meet, that person will think, ‘Well they said half an hour last time, and we stayed for two hours.”

Last but not least, don’t hesitate to pay the bill.

“You don’t want there to be any unnecessary awkwardness,” says Robert. “Maybe it was how I was raised, but I always offer to pay first up. You don’t want the takeaway from the meeting to be how uncomfortable it felt regarding who paid the $4 for a coffee. That’s not the point of the meeting.”

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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