It used to be that many of the valuable opportunities to network happened in a bar, on the golf course, or at other sporting events.
Which made it somewhat tricky for Career Chicks. Not impossible but tricky. I must admit to taking golf lessons when I was in a sales role. Just so that I could participate in corporate golf days without completely embarrassing myself.
Not that I was any good at all. But at least I knew how to hold a club and had a vague idea which one to select at the right time. It was when the club and ball connected that my lack of ability shone through. But I gave it a go and didn't get excluded from these valuable opportunities to get to know my clients better. (And I did once win a frozen chicken in a local competition!)
When it came to drinks in bars and going to the football - things were not quite so easy. This was an environment that was not comfortable for me and I chose not to participate (most of the time). Which no doubt meant that I missed out on opportunities to build rapport with clients and colleagues - and I am sure - meant that I missed out on finding out 'stuff'.
Which is why coffee so can be so good for your career - it can put men and women on an even kiel and provide you with networking opportunities where you can develop relationships that will help you achieve your business and career objectives.
A little while ago I was talking with someone who was not convinced that having coffee meetings with her colleagues was a good idea. "I'd rather just get on and do my work" and "It takes longer than a quick chat in the office" she said. Sentiments that I have been guilty of sharing in the past.
But coffee can provide plenty of benefits that outweigh the extra time at your desk.
Here are 5 Fast Tips to justify why having coffee meetings is good for your career:
1. It's a safe environment - a coffee house or coffee shop is usually very public, there's none of the risks that occur when alcohol is involved and there is no stigma associated with a woman asking a man our for a coffee.
2. It's quick - in comparison with attending an event or having a meal with someone. Which makes it a quite efficient use of time. On the other hand, if you want to buy a little extra time with someone you can drink your coffee really slow. Unless they have another appointment people won't usually rush away if they see your cup is still half full. (This technique has led me to get quite used to drinking quite cold tea and coffee - but it works!)
3. Provides a different or neutral environment. It you are having a meeting with people you work with it can create a more relaxed environment or just give everyone a break from the office. Both of which may be appreciated by your colleague and allow them to relax and be a little bit more forthcoming in their discussions with you. If your meeting someone you don't work with on a day to day basis - a coffee meeting can be held on 'neutral' ground.
4. Helps you get to know others better - you get a chance for a bit of chit chat (at least whilst you are waiting for your coffee) that allows you to ask some questions and get to know them. It's easier to connect with people when you understand them better and they will likely be more receptive to you if you have a genuine connection.
5. Gives you a chance to catch your breath and focus on the person you are meeting with. Your side of the communication will be much more effective if you are focused on the topic at hand and not distracted by incoming emails, an endless to-do list and interruptions from others. It's what we call "quality" time.
And you get a coffee (tea, water, whatever) as well!
My tip - book in a coffee meeting with someone now!
Thanks for the chat, I'm off for a coffee,