This post is a 2 part informational…On one side I don’t like coffee, I host tea parties for clients, mentees, and colleagues and they ABSOLUTELY love it. It’s very girly (when applicable) and shows them a piece of the experience they will have with me if they decide to refer me business, need business advice, or want to become a client themselves. On the other hand I wrote this piece because if you saw how many “Can we have coffee?” emails, texts, facebook, calls, and linkedin requests I received a week you would be baffled. I am sure some of my ‘senior’ (in professional years) colleagues receive an overwhelmingly amount more to that affect.
In the last quarter of 2011 I vowed to myself and my business that I would spend more time on us; financially, mentally, and physically figuring out the perfect balance of meeting new people, courting clients, catching up with colleagues but also being fulfilled. I was spending upwards of $100-$200 a month having lunch, tea, and everything in between and was not seeing the return; on my time, which ends up being two hours for a 30 minute ‘date’ or my business. I learned very quickly two important facts: I can’t continue on my growth structure this way and I had to Learn How to Be Selfish, which aptly is the title of the book I am writing.
So…have you used the dreadful phrase “can I pick your brain?” If so, these are for you!
Identify what you ‘need’: Your pitch is everything. Outline why exactly you would like to meet. Chances are that we can make a great intro via email or phone and then the rest can follow. What I have found is that at the root of why most people want to meet they are looking for something that I can sum up pretty quickly without a face to face, if I have all of the information. There are also times when I might not be the right person and I can best identify that with a great ‘pitch’!
Request a referral: Each of us knows someone who knows someone but we don’t always use our resources well enough. If you are looking to chat with someone share with your friends or colleagues and see if they can make a referral. I am far quicker to jump on a call or meet with someone if they have been introduced to me via a colleague or someone in my network. Remember, relationships matter! PS: it is REALLY important for that mutual colleague to make the connection instead of you dropping their name saying “such and such said we should meet”.
Follow up: The key to the best relationships is the follow up. If someone gave you advice via email or a social networking site, shoot them a quick follow up of your successes since you last spoke. Also, send a nice note to the person who introduced you and to the person you made a connection with. 2 or 3 lines goes pretty far these days and will keep you at the top of the ‘memory’ pile.
Don’t just take: Every relationship must be mutually beneficial. You are ‘picking their brain’ but what do you bring back to them?! Be sure to serve as a resource for them too!
One quick point for those who are being “picked”:
Don’t discount your time or knowledge: Don’t feel bad for not taking every meeting OR for charging for your knowledge. Educational institutions charge (mostly) for book knowledge and you are giving candid, life experience and can request compensation.
The moral of the story is…the next time you want to ask someone to lunch consider their busy schedule and offer to bring them coffee or tea to the office, suggest a skype or Google Hangout interaction, or a good ole’ fashion telephone call. Remember to be persistent but not pesky with a great pitch AND follow up!
Of course if you want to have lunch with me you can sign up for Lunch and Learn with Kia Jarmon ;)
Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency, based in Nashville, TN. She speaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site, www.KiaJarmon.com.