No! I Don't Wanna Do Coffee. Pt. 2

Why does everyone want to meet; everyday, all day, in the middle of the day? With the pop up of hundreds of coffee shops it seems everyone wants to sit all day, sip lattes, chat about how great their business is (even if there are some struggles), and maybe post about there fabulous coffee date on twitter and Facebook. What the heck world are they living in? Sex and the City 3 possibly?! Now here are two major point about me; I love sitting and chatting over tea (no coffee for me) with my colleagues and company partners AND I adore shopping local when I decide to indulge.

It seems at least 2-3 times a week I receive a (networking event) follow up email that says something like, “Hi Kia, it was {a pleasure/great/awesome} to meet you at XYZ event. I would love to learn more about your business. Maybe we can grab coffee sometime this week?” They then proceed to give me a couple of days and times that work for them. Now I absolutely love meeting people. Heck, my PR outfit depends on new relationships but there has to be a better way of going about this.

At first I would sit back and think ‘wow, I’m so popular because such and such wants to meet with me’. I quickly, like within seconds, snapped out of that thinking and thought that I wanted to get to the root of this situation. I realized that many of us are not making the most out of our networking opportunities, myself included.

When you meet someone at a networking event there are a couple of best practices. Before you get their card, have a brief conversation about the other person’s ideal client, what they are looking for and how your company might benefit them. After all isn’t that the information that you need? 

Ladies/Gentleman this is the same concept when meeting someone of the opposite sex. This preliminary information ensures that you properly categorize them as someone you would marry, date, or just hang out with, right? Networking is the same. Everyone does not fall within your targeted sphere but might be great to introduce you to someone else. But how would you know that if you don’t find out this info early on?

When networking there is another really big part of the equation to consider. Most professionals, CEOs, and even stay at home (domestic engineers) moms create their schedules 1-2 weeks in advance. Unless you have a client we can discuss right now let’s try to steer away from the pop up meetings. 

Unfortunately, to some that might be a sign that you are not busy enough. Now let me give my caveat; I do believe that last minute meetings can happen and you should even put space in your calendar for such but these are usually reserved for crisis situations, prospective clients who might have a crisis, or current clients who have an emergency (not quite at crisis level).

Want to Maximize Your Networking Skills:

Have some questions ready before you head to the event. While you don’t want to sound scripted, others will appreciate that you are focused on relationship development, building your business, and how to best work together. It will serve your business better if you are prepped so that you can make the most of your time, which I’m sure is limited.

Know what categories of people you want to network with. It is true that everyone you meet will not become a client but many times they may lead you to a client. To get you started I would suggest adding these categories: complementary businesses (things that play well with your company), business services (general services that you or your client may need), and just all around great to know (people who can refer and make introductions or become lifelong friends).

Follow up via email and then a call. The hardest thing for most entrepreneurs to do is stop their day for a coffee date that might not result in much for them. Instead, I have found that it is best to create am email rapport and then SCHEDULE time to chat via phone or skype. Another idea is to invite them to another networking event so that you can have one more professional encounter with them. After you have danced together a little while (2-4 emails, calls) then you can meet in person and have the fab coffee straight out of SATC!

I really still want to feel popular and hear from all of you but let’s build a fabulous relationship before we spend all of our time (and money) drinking tea! Also, here’s Part 1 if you’re interested.

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency. Shespeaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site,

No, I Don't Wanna Do Coffee

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 ;)

Good luck!

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,