Nowadays our contacts are crazy busy. They have massive pressures on their time and energy. They’re dealing with unclear priorities from higher-ups. And distracted by attention seeking from lower-downs. That’s their life.
And, what you must realise is, even when they have a problem we can solve, clients probably won’t immediately be thinking of us.
We cruise into this chaos with an email asking them for to join us for a ‘catch up coffee’. And some accept, after all who wouldn’t want to escape the trap for an hour, to enjoy some stimulating company.
We refresh our contacts awareness of what we might do for them, or the people in their network, and hope that if they have a project coming up they’ll remember us.
Our intention for these coffee meetings is, of course, to find work. [Or as bullshit marketers like to say ’attract clients’]. The outcome however is often interesting conversations, that go nowhere. That’s an expensive use of our time.
There is another approach. And you don’t have to give up drinking coffee.
Take control of the meeting. Don’t be lured into a work update, even if your contact specifically asks what you’ve been doing since you last met. That’s what lower downs do.
Instead talk about business. Name problems and opportunities. By doing this you’ll open the client up to talk about their wider business and personal concerns. You’ll also position yourself as adding value as a business executive, not just an expert consultant. That’s important because once contacts see you as a business person, who understands their issues, things change.
And bring fresh insights to the meeting. Create value by bringing your business improvement ideas to the meeting. This is where you link your expertise to the issues and opportunities in the market. In doing so you position yourself, in the client’s ‘top of mind’ as someone worthy of consultation.
So, next quarter, instead of catch ups over coffee, construct your plan for talking about business and adding value with your ideas. It may seem strange at first, but after a while you’ll see this is a more elegant approach to nurturing relationships that produce business.