Polly McGee is our contributor this week
For one of my colleagues, five cups of coffee is the measurement between looking for new business and finding it. He explains it this way: the five cups weren’t with the same person, but they represented the average number of conversations it took to convert talk into action.
It makes sense in this socially networked era that business comes from conversation, not advertising or hard sell. If you consider what business-to-business relations are all about, it means an open-ended conversation with your peers, customers and potential clients. You are inviting them to experience your brand, via you, in an authentic and transparent way. Much as you would over coffee.
I like this social beverage-driven metric. It evokes an open dialogue that is truly two-way, rather than meetings based on outcomes. Over a coffee, you’re not giving a monologue about how great you are. You’re learning about the person you’re with, what they like, their values and their needs.
There are parallels here with the way that Asian cultures do business. In a world based on trust, rather than the capacity to enforce contracts, the preamble to a deal is about building the trust that overlays the deal’s actual nuts and bolts.
We often approach networking as some kind of gladiatorial contest, where the most business cards exchanged wins. This feels hard because it is. Conquering a room of strangers with limited focus is never a great way to make friends and influence people. It is however, a good way to get an instant gut reaction for who you may want to do business with. Then you can instigate your first cup of coffee.
My personal approach to business has always been to do it with friends. I want to work and deal with people who share my values and goals. They are going to represent me, and my products and services as an authentic evangelist, because my business becomes an extension of our relationship.
If interactions are hard and communication is a chore, it stands to reason that the whole transaction will be like that, and probably the relationship. The time spent trying to resolve your issues could be better spent, cultivating a relationship with someone you really want to have a cup of coffee or five with.
Dr Polly McGee has worked as a digital strategist and business consultant, freelance writer in entrepreneurship and commercialisation and has been published in Start-up Smart. She is regularly featured as an expert on Startups and women in entrepreneurship. Polly is the current Chair of Tasmanian literary magazine Island, occasional media commentator, wannabe novelist and sporadic food blogger.