Tuesday, December 26, 2006
One of the best things that has come along for casual networking meetings is the proliferation of Starbucks. They are everywhere. They are casual. They are inexpensive (compared to the price of a full meal...I realize the coffee is WAY overpriced for coffee). And most important they are comfortably familiar.
Find a coffee house (does not need to be a Starbucks) en route to your office. Make it a habit to leave your house forty five minutes earlier each day four days a week. On two of those days schedule a coffee meeting with someone in your network. On the other two days just go there to read the paper or the latest business book.
(Even if you do not drink coffee, they have lots of other beverages).
Over time you will be amazed how many familiar faces from your business community you will see on a regular basis. This give you a great and unassuming chance to say hello and keep in touch. Part of building a network is remaining visible and having regular chances to keep in touch. Keeping in touch can take as little effort as a polite "hello" while standing in line for your java.
When you are having meetings there some days, and sitting alone other days.... you will become approachable. If you always have meetings or are always alone, people might not want to disturb you, but since you mix it up, you will not be seen as stuck in a routine or too busy in a meeting.
Additionally you will begin to recognize strangers over time, and eventually see them all over town. At some point you can say hello and introduce yourself to them. You never know who you might meet.
Networking Guru and author of "The Ripple Effect", Steve Harper, often writes on his blog about the connections he makes at his local coffee house. He is there everyday working on his laptop and is friendly to everyone. Friends and strangers alike who patronize the establishment have gotten to know Steve. He has met new friends and discovered new business opportunities through his being a regular customer. Like "Norm" on the television show "Cheers"! (without all the beer).
The other side effect is that if you take forty-five minutes to read something inspiring two or more days a week, you will learn more than you can imagine!
Have a great day...and enjoy your morning coffee.