What Resonated This Week: The Power of "Coffee Talk"

This is the fourth installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion. Suggestions for future topics are always welcome; just reply in the comments section below.

For the last three weeks I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience. Last week I wrote about finding the courage to ask for help.

This week it's all about that Linda Richman favorite, "Coffee Talk," and how powerful it can be to connect in person.

Earlier this week Jim Murray, a favorite LinkedIn Unfluencer™, posed the following challenge to his followers:

The next level of LinkedIn is the one that people are

just starting to wake up to, now that it's become painfully obvious

that the vast majority of us are more or less on our own out here.

Here's one idea. Find the people you are linked to in your town

and email them one of these. It's time to start the Engagement Phase.

Engagement is right. Folks got excited. Posted comments. And believe it or not, actually took the time to make plans to meet in real life!

I was one of those excited folks.

This week, I had the opportunity to have two coffee talks. The first was with a former colleague I hadn't seen in 18 years; the second with the sister of a relatively new LinkedIn connection who "had a feeling" that the two of us should meet. (She was right.)

Though the circumstances for each meeting were different they did share one crucial element: face time.

In the digitally dominated world in which we live, it's easy to fall victim to communicating via email or text. Even when we manage to use our smart phones as actual phones, that live conversation is still missing something.

For me, the shared experience of getting to know someone over coffee has always been preferable to other modes of communication. Maybe it's knowing they're not in the office reading emails while on the phone with me; maybe it's how I'm wired, craving actual, one-on-one human interaction. Whatever the case, having face time reminds me that we are people first, insert-job-title-here second.

Along those lines, here are a few tips I've picked up to make your Coffee Talks more enjoyable and productive:

Be open — to new connections, opportunities, points of view, partnerships and opportunities to help.

Be available — not just in carving out time your schedule, but to actually focusing on that one person you're having coffee with and truly listening to what they're saying.

Be grateful — if you've succeeded in scheduling a coffee talk with a connection, that means they are giving you one of their most precious commodities: their time. Understand that they are trusting that you are worth it, so be sure you demonstrate that (see above). After your meeting, a thank you note is a wonderful gesture and an opportunity to schedule your next coffee talk.

See how that works?

So here's some fun homework for you a la Jim: think about your network, and who might enjoy a coffee talk (spoiler alert: lots of folks!). Then make it so.

Make the caffeine odds be ever in your favor.

So, what resonated with you this week? And more importantly, when can we get together for coffee?

#consulting #facetime #networking

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