Networking and keeping in touch with clients, contacts, colleagues and customers can be essential in many lines of work. Coffee dates can be a great way to maintain contact. They can be a great way to follow-up initial contact at a networking event.
If they are local it is slightly easier to find a mutually convenient place. Alternatively, if they are further afield you should try to set up a virtual coffee date instead.
How often you should touch base depends on the contact and how often face to face contact is necessary. Unless business requires more frequent meet-ups every six months or yearly coffee dates are usually sufficient provided contact is maintained through electronic means.
I often find that a lot of time can pass between the first suggestion of a coffee date and the real coffee date. This can be frustrating. So I try to manage my coffee dates using my planner and have a special printable included in the planner section of my career planner.
If you are struggling to synchronise diaries sometimes a Virtual Coffee Date can be just as beneficial as the real thing.
Set up a Virtual Coffee Date Instead
I find that a lot of my contacts are in London and I don’t get to visit London often enough to set up coffee dates (or drinks or lunch) with everyone. The Solution? I sometimes set up Virtual Coffee Dates instead. This is simply where I arrange a time for a chat with a contact on the phone/Skype but we arrange a mutually convenient time and each of us will have a fresh cup of coffee (usually from my local coffee shop).
While this won’t work for all contacts and admittedly face to face contact is better a virtual coffee date can keep the connection fresh without waiting until that moment when your diaries match 8 months down the line.
The other benefits are of course that there is no travel time for a virtual coffee date and 20 minutes or less of phone networking can be a better use of your time that other procrastinating activities.
Action point: Review your contact list and pick three people who you have meaning to catch up with and get something in the diary over the next three months.