How To Protect Your Precious Time

(With one simple process.)

Have you ever walked away from a coffee meeting feeling exasperated?  Thinking, “what just happened there?”

You went into the meeting thinking this conversation could result in a new client or a great collaboration…

…Only it turns out that the other person had different ideas.  

They listened patiently to you for 40 minutes, then, promptly pitched you with their new service.

Or asked you to do a swop.  You know, like you help them and in exchange they give you a makeover.  Or a garden redesign.  Or a massage.  Or something else equally unnecessary.

Or told you “sounds great!  But I could never afford your fees.”

Which means you just wasted 90 minutes of your precious time.

If this sounds familiar, then you need to start protecting your precious time!

When I first started my consultancy business I went for lots of ‘coffee meetings’.  Partly because I was keen to network in a new city with a new business.  And partly because I thought I would be able to help these people, and that some of them would become potential clients or partners.

So despite my many years of experience in dealing with big advertising agencies and large corporate clients – I merrily went off for dozens of coffee meetings.

coffee meetings

Blissfully unaware of the one big mistake I was making.

Turn out, that unless you set the ground rules, people will take advantage of your generous nature.  Or sometimes more likely, they are just not clear what you want the outcome to be.

But, thankfully, there is a easy way to solve this problem.

It involves setting up a simple little process.

This process filters every request you get for ‘coffee’ so that only people who are genuinely interested in working with you make it to the coffee and cake club ;0)

I started using this process at the beginning of this year and so far it has saved me at least two or three unproductive meetings per month.

Plus it has improved the quality of meetings that I schedule.  There’s no beating around the bush, misunderstandings or disappointments.  We both know the purpose of the meeting or call.

This process is three simple questions.

Ask these questions to anyone who suggests having a ‘coffee and a chat’.

Easier still, you can set up these questions on your online scheduling tool.  Then send them the link so they must fill in the answers before choosing a slot in your diary (I love Acuity scheduling).

  1. What is the biggest struggle that you are experiencing now, that prompted you to get in touch?  This one gets to the bottom of WHY they want to meet with you –it makes it clear that you are meeting to help them with something relating to your business.
  2. What consequence is this struggle having on your business?  Makes them think about the long term…”if I don’t do something about this NOW, where will I be in the future?”  Find out how urgent their need for your service/advice is.
  3. Why do you believe I can help you?  This is the clincher.  If your potential coffee date can answer this in full before they speak to you, then they have already convinced themselves that they need your help, which makes the whole ‘sales’ conversation a lot easier.

(Here’s my scheduler in action if you want to check it out)

This simple process will protect your precious time and ensure that your discovery calls or coffee meetings are productive.  It will filter out time-wasters and will make you feel a whole lot more focused and valuable.