The In-Office Appointment v. The Coffeeshop
I need to credit Becky Dowd from Kirkland Albrecht & Fredrickson, P.C. for this post because after our meeting last week (over a cup of coffee) it got me thinking about the difference of meeting people in the office and over a cup of coffee.
1. The Menu
At your office: The water bubbler. Stale Coffee. No food except the crappy munchkins I brought you because they are a safe bet when you are unsure how many people are going to want something to eat. But I’m not eating them anyway because that is not the proper meeting etiquette (by the way, folks – if an agency or media rep comes to your office and brings food – don’t hoard them – – eat them – share them – share them with the guy that brought them J )
At the coffeeshop: Providing we chose a decent establishment (sorry to keep knocking D&Ds): Choice of beverage: water, juice, coffee, soda etc. Eating is an activity in which all parties can participate. And sharing – I’m a big fan of sharing my food – “here try a piece of mine – it’s great”
2. The Atmosphere
At your office: Conference room at a huge table or in a small office with a person sitting behind the desk – either one can get a bit stuffy.
At the coffeeshop: Oooh, again we’re banking on choosing a proper coffeeshop – there will be big comfortable chairs, or cozy table set ups, sometimes even the option to sit outside – everyone is usually happy (quite possibly because you are not in an office).
3. The Conversation
At your office: Serious, rehersed. Strategic. Forced. I open with an obvious observation – (Wow – I love the color of your walls!) I tell you about my company, you tell me about yours. There is an exchange of questions. I try to crack a few jokes, but I don’t give it my all because I’d hate for you to get in trouble for laughing too loudly – you get the point.
At the coffeeshop: Relaxed. Not scripted. We share some funny stories about always getting the wrong order at that other coffeeshop (I’m not going to apologize this time) – and we get know each others companies, informally, discuss some real world marketing pain points without worrying about being overheard.
4. The Ideas:
At your office: Since the conversation never really takes off, the ideas never really get going.
At the coffeeshop: Ideas are bouncing off the walls (or cars if you’re outside).
5. The Easy Way Out:
At your office: Your stuck! Your in the office so there is no escape if it’s not going well. All of your calls are being held because everyone knows your in a meeting and you feel rude since you invited the person if you say you have to go after 5 minutes.
At the coffeeshop: Plenty of “excuses” to call the meeting short (Sidenote— If you are someone who has met me for coffee – I have never had to use any of these). My favorite? #1 Drinking your coffee fast. Afterall, when the coffee’s gone the meeting is over. #2 The phone call /email / text on the iPhone/Blackberry is a horrible emergency and you need to get to office – stat!
Overall, since meeting with people outside the office not only have the meetings been productive but I have gotten to know more people on a different level that I feel helps in a working relationship.
If you want to join me for a cup of coffee let me know – I’ll buy.