Coffee dates (sometimes called one-to-ones) may be old-fashioned, but if you are looking for referrals and clients, going on coffee dates is a must do.
Some entrepreneurs shy away from coffee dates because they don’t know how to make it worth their time. Other entrepreneurs are not sure how to ask another business owner to join them for a coffee date.
If coffee dates are out of your comfort zone – or you’re not sure how to proceed – this is the marketing strategy for you.
I will share with you how to ask a potential referral source to join you on a coffee date, what to share on the coffee date, and what to do after the coffee date, so that you end up with referrals, and eventually, clients.
So, grab a cup of coffee – and let’s get started!
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Coffee dates are when you and another entrepreneur meet for coffee (in-person or virtually) to see how you can give each other referrals.
This is a “I’ll scratch my back; you’ll scratch mine” scenario. It doesn’t have to be formal, but I do recommend the following process to ensure you’re maximizing each coffee date.
Asking For A Coffee Date
If you identify someone you would like to meet for a coffee date, here’s what you need to say:
“I believe I can refer clients you. Would you like to meet for 30 minutes for coffee and discuss our ideal clients – and see if we can help each other?”
The other entrepreneur will say yes, and you take it from there. The beauty of this request is that it’s about the other person. Who wouldn’t want more clients, right?
What To Do On A Coffee Date
Before you head out on your coffee date, make sure you have a stash of business cards and information about your ideal client. I would recommend creating a one-page flyer that outlines who your ideal client is. This is an easy thing to leave with your referral partner.
(If you need help identifying your ideal client, download a copy of my book, That First Client. I have a whole chapter dedicated to ideal client, which will help you narrow down who your target marketing is. Click here to get your free copy).
Next, as soon as you sit down with your coffee date, remind him that you are eager to learn more about his ideal clients – and that you are eager to share information about your business too. Here’s how I usually state it:
“I am so excited to learn more about your business today! I don’t want to keep you too long. Why don’t we talk about your business for about 15 minutes and then switch over to mine?”
This sets the stage that this is a mutual relationship and keeps the conversation on pace.
While your coffee date talks, make sure you get a good idea of who is his ideal client and what type of business he is looking for. Take notes, if needed. If you know of someone who is his ideal client, share that person’s name and promise to make an introduction (do it then, if you can, through email or text message).
Then, when it’s your turn, share your business cards and ideal client flyer, and specifically ask him if he knows anyone who is like your ideal client. If he does, ask him to make an introduction, and be sure to write down the names of anyone he thinks is a good fit.
After The Coffee Date
The post-coffee date is super important, and it’s often a step that’s forgotten by entrepreneurs.
Once you are home from your coffee date, immediately email your referral partner:
- Thank him for his time.
- Summarize who his ideal client is and the names of the people you think may be a good fit. Mention that you’ll reach out to these people right away.
- Gently remind him to reach out to anyone he knows that is your ideal client (if he provided names, list them).
After sending this email, make those introductions you promised. Do this right away.
Now, go to your calendar, and think about when you want to reach out to your new referral partner again. Plan to do another coffee date quarterly and maybe a reach-out email monthly.
Your job, at this point, is to keep your name top of mind. People have great intentions, but unless you wave your hands around and make them remember you, you may not get any referrals. Be diligent in following up with his referral suggestions. And be sure to keep in touch with him – well after the coffee date.
Now that you have the process for having a productive coffee date, reach out to someone today to invite him to a coffee date. If you can have at least one coffee date each week, you are increasing your visibility and putting more “ears to the ground” for you (which equals more clients!).
Here’s to your coffee date success – let me know how it goes for you and if you have any questions. I am here for you!
Hi, I’m Jill Celeste. I teach purpose-driven entrepreneurs (just like you) everything you need to know about marketing so you can become the Director of Marketing for your business.
Because when you put your Director of Marketing hat squarely on your head, marketing is your number one priority (which will result in more clients!).
When I am not teaching about marketing, you’ll find me hanging out with my husband or my teenage boys, or taking a nap with my basset hound, Emma. I also like to play with my two guinea pigs and feed the backyard ducks (much to my neighbor’s chagrin).
Want to learn more about marketing? I invite you to get my book for free – just head over to www.ThatFirstClient.com. And don’t let the title fool you; it will help you get your first – or next – client. I am honored to help you! ♥