Coffee Dates are a great way to build a relationship with new connections in an informal setting.

Coffee dates, also known as ‘get to know you’ dates are a great opportunity not to be missed in your marketing strategy giving each person the chance  to provide an overview of you, your business, and who would be a good referral for you (your ideal client).

If your coffee date was not previously familiar with your business, these dates pose a great opportunity to become referable . . . now and in the future.

If possible, try to have your coffee date at one of your workplaces. This mental picture and understanding of where either of you conduct business will go a long way toward helping each of you think of each other when a possible referral comes along.

After your date, ask yourself, “Who do I know who might benefit from this person’s business/ services/ products?” Also, consider other resources or supportive connections you can provide.

You may not have anything in common with the person and your company / business might have nothing to do with each other but don’t let that stop you from seizing the chance to learn about someone new. However don’t assume you will gain anything from the meeting; sometimes the most to be gained can come from someone you meet who has a service you might need or someone you know who needs the service.

Be gracious – if someone invites you for a coffee date go with an open mind. You never know how you might be able to help them.

As CEO of Westshore Women’s Business Network I hear some common objections why women don’t want to have coffee dates. I’ll share a different perspective if  you’ve felt this way:

Q – “I don’t want to go for coffee because I know she’s going to try to sell me something. She’s in the financial sectoHow do I get around that?” 

A – How do you know that she is going to try to sell you something? Do you know what she specializes in? Do you know if she has other business interests? Who does she know that might need your services?

If you approached the meeting with a different, open mindset of the meeting not being a waste of time, how different would the meeting go?

Q – “I’m booking so far in advance with clients, she probably wouldn’t wait that long?”

A –  You’re making an assumption, give her the choice. Be honest with her about your schedule. A response might be, “Sure, I’d love to have coffee with you and learn more about you and your business and see how we can help each other. I’m really in demand right now (notice I didn’t say I’m really busy!) booking about a month in advance. Would you consider going to my online scheduling system and choosing a date that works for you?”

Such a response puts the ball back in her court for booking. If it’s important to her and she wants to wait a month, she’ll make the effort.  If she just wants a quick sale, she won’t. The important thing is she knows your time is valuable. You’ve identified you’d like to learn more about her and indirectly told her that’s how you’d expect the dialogue to go.

Let’s all see how we can support one another in business. You may feel that coffee dates interfere with your valuable time, but instead think about how you are marketing yourself for the future.

What you do today determines what you will be doing in 90 days from now.

Not sure what to ask your coffee date? Here are a few helpful questions to get to know each other better:

1. How did you get started in the _______ business?

2. What do you enjoy most about your profession?

3. What separates you and your company from the competition?

4. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your business?

5. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

7. What do you see as the coming trends in the (name type of business) business?

8. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business.

9. What ways have you found to be most effective for promoting your business?

10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?

Be open to digging deeper into certain questions that might uncover certain gems of information to mutually help you both elevate your business.

Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN) was founded by Deb Alcadinho in 2010 as a way to connect women in business, and to provide inspiration and learning through keynote speakers. She believes in the power of connection, the strength of collaboration and the value of community. We host learning, connection and networking events for female business owners, and donate a portion of revenue to women’s social profits in Victoria, BC.

Check out our free downloads to help you in your networking journey, courses and resources to help you grow your business or learn more about becoming a WWBN member.