Networking Question: Should You Invite Prospects for Coffee?

Should You Invite Prospects for Coffee?MDS_FreelanceConference-125

That’s just one of the many questions asked during the live Q&A interview I did yesterday with Dana Manciagli, author of the upcoming book, “Cut the Crap, Get a Job” on the topic of “Creative Selling Strategies.”

It was all part of our very first day-long online event, “Strategies for Creative Freelancers” — which is still available, by the way, if you want to download all the presentations to watch at your leisure. (Use “CFFALL2013” for $50 off.)

Dana’s answer: Err on the formal side. In the surprisingly active online discussion forum afterward, she explained in more detail why…

1. Busy executives (buyers) often want their lunch and coffee breaks to themselves or with co-workers, subordinates. If they want to meet over a coffee or lunch, let them advise. But you can default to a meeting at their office. It’s easy. No travel time for them (e.g,. they can have a meeting right before your meeting and one right after…very common).

2. Lunch and coffee shops, especially, are noisy. You only have 30 minutes (maybe an hour) so why waste it standing in line, waiting for a table, and competing with a server who is asking how your food is? Even on-campus or on-site lunch rooms are loud and others walk up to say hello to your prospect. Happens all the time.

3. In their office, they may be able to show you samples of work that falls under their responsibility. You will learn more about them.

4. Your pre-close meetings are like job interviews. You need to be your best and the way to do that is to control the environment.

5. You are perceived as more serious and you send the message that you really want the project.

Just envision the most powerful meetings you can have. Try it with an objective of doing no more than 3 things in 30 minutes: Introductions, Brief Overview of your business and asking them about their upcoming creative initiatives. (You can flip-flop #2 and 3 but I always think some short context around who you are helps them frame their insights to you.)

At the end, you want to “go for the close” and ask if you can come back to learn more so you can quote on some of those initiatives!

Try it and tell us how it works!