Many business meetings happen over a cup of coffee these days and if you are coming from the side of the table where you want to seek for advice or meeting a potential investor, be sure of what to say, how to act and follow up during the meeting as you will never know if that meeting will be the last one you’ll ever have with that person if you accidentally step on their tail.
- Do your homework.
The worst type of meetings happen when the originator of the meeting does not show that he or she is interested in the potential investor or do not have a clear direction of where he or she would want the meeting to result in. Why would this person be interested in having a meeting with you? Who is he/she and what do they do as a living? These are just some simple questions to help you started with your pre-meeting research so that you do not appear there with an empty brain.
- First Impressions.
Let them know how you got to know them and introduce yourself. This is good as it establishes rapport with the other party and conversations will not be too awkward when you meet them in person. You can include this portion in the invitation email and an example would be:
“Hi Alex, I have gotten your contact from Joshua from Fintech. I am Michael from Arbitrage and Co. I have read up on your company’s website and history and I strongly feel that we have a common interest and goal of establishing the country’s biggest provider of industrial grade aluminum.”
- Go to them instead of asking them over.
When or if they accept your invitation to the meeting, do them the convenience of going over to somewhere that is closer to where they are rather than being selfish and asking them to head over to you. It shows that you respect their time and they will be more inclined to accept the meeting because it is convenient for them.
During the Meeting
- Never, ever be late.
Much like being late for your dinner date with the girl/guy of your dreams, you would not want them to arrive before you do as it spoils the first impression as spoken above. Be there early. Take the earlier bus or train there and if you’re driving, leave much early than you would plan to. This gives you some headroom to recce the coffee shop or cafe that the meeting will be held in and you can also select a better seat where it's not too noisy to hold a proper conversation as well.
- Offer to pay.
The least you could do for taking someone’s precious time is to pay for their coffee. If you are a student or an intern, they will most likely foot the bill instead but you must at least offer to do so. However, if the other party insists on paying, let them take it. Do not turn this kind gesture into something that may spark a conflict or spend a lot of time on.
- Be laser-focused on the topic.
Start the ball rolling properly by asking them kindly for the advice that you are seeking. If you are meeting an investor, never ever ask for money straight away. Even if they say something like: “Let’s skip the formalities and head straight down to business.”, do not immediately ask for the value that you need. Instead, let them know the reasons why you need the money and what will you do with it. If you are meeting someone for advice, build the proper rapport being asking for their opinion.
Once the other party starts sharing their thoughts, listen. Be an active listener and look out for their body language and physical cues. You can take it a step further and listen out for when they share their troubles and offer any form of assistance that you think might be of help. They will most likely reject it but do still offer it. Take notes of “to-do” and “to-ask”.
- Be wary of the time.
Even if the meeting is going very well, there are a lot of relatable topics thrown around and the two of you starts to clique on a lot of common topics, check the time occasionally. If the meeting is supposed to only be half an hour, remind them that the time is running out around the 20-minute mark. It shows them that you are respectful of the time that they are sharing and let them continue if they want to past the stated time of the meeting.
If the meeting did not turn out to be as productive as you wanted it to be, it's okay. The first meeting’s goal should be about establishing rapport and gaining the other party’s trust. There can always be a follow-up meeting or two if the other party likes you. If you did not score well during the first meeting, you can forget entirely about gaining their help in investing in you or ever meeting them.
- Follow up.
Remember the notes that you took down during the meeting? Follow up on that no later than 36 hours after the meeting. It will be optimal if you follow up on them immediately when you return back to the computer. Many meetings go to waste because people do not initiate follow-up actions to be done. Another good practice would be to thank them for taking time out to meet you despite their busy schedule.
And with enough practice and meetings, you will gain a good reputation in your field and will no longer have the first-timer jitters when meeting someone new. Sooner or later, you might even be invited to one!
Did we miss out any important pointers to look out for during a coffee meeting? Let us know what do you think down in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to receive important updates on new product releases and upcoming promotions!
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