Are you tired of receiving requests for coffee catch ups that don’ t have purpose? Are you tired of grabbing ‘a coffee’ in the hope of business value then kick yourself on the way back to the office or home? Are you tired of having your brains picked? You are a victim of the CURB epidemic. Lets Curb the CURB and stop the Coffee Catch Up Request Bullshit.
The nationwide CURB epidemic causes much tension and mayhem. The Coffee Catch Up Request Bullshit must be immobilised with a sip or 10 of collective personal and business truths.
You see, I do not want to grab or have a coffee with you. Oh that sounds harsh doesn’t it? What I meant to say is that ‘I do want to have a mutually meaningful and productive meeting with you’. And if great coffee is included that will be a great bonus.
The aroma of roasted beans never wanes. Be it at home, offices or cafes and restaurants the rich liquid delights each time. And conversations that are open, gratifying and purposeful are sought and revered.
A chat, natter, chinwag, dialogue or whatever you choose to call the verbal sharing of ideas and genuine interest is the wheels which drive business relationships. And with many options to have conversations (Zoom, in Person, Skype, Mobiles etc) geography and access is never a barrier to connect.
But equal to a predilection for caffeine and valuable conversations is an unwavering and deep respect for transparency and time – mine, yours and everyone’s.
So unless we are friends or family there simply needs to be good reason to grab or have a business coffee. Those reasons are varied and acceptance is based on mutual agreement.
I am also aware of the thirst for real human connection as evidenced in the surge of networking groups and meet-ups. It’s tacit that people hanker for more than a keyboard interlude. But with the scarcity of hours per day, ROI and productivity needs, sound decisions on time management allocations must to be made continually.
Congruently, with the desire to take online conversations offline, we can talk with and eyeball anyone in the world from our office chairs with ease. Frankly people are tired of the clichéd dumbing down of purpose with CURBs being thrown around like wedding confetti without any thought of the stains and impact.
The two types of CURBs
The 1st is just a simple polite way to close off communication. Both sides know full well that sharing of the coveted bean is as likely as the Easter Bunny turning into Santa Claus. Though miracles and surprises can happen.
The 2nd CURB has clear intent to meet up. This is demonstrated with a direct request and suggestions of dates and times.
Yet only a small percentage of such requests come with detail on what they would like to discuss. The invitation has no agenda, context or objective. Simply it’s ‘would be great to meet you in person’? Most strangely, they can be after several online messages and what would should be assumed of prior research and due diligence.
And a secondary issue occurs when the inviter is asked for some information and context for that coffee catch up. Even with the most polite and respectful manner from the invitee, the response can be appallingly vague, zilch, let’s just meet and talk in person or gushing flattery without any framework of intention.
Why do people think that giving compliments will automatically elicit an acceptance of spending an hours to meet them? Admiration is wonderful when manipulation isn’t involved. And disturbingly, many responses have a push back tone of “how dare you ask for a purpose as you should be honoured I want to meet you”.
Too often people prey on the fact that others will cave into pressure when face to face. Hence the ‘pick your brains’ mindset of intention. The psychology of manipulation is not a subject I can discuss with academic gravitas, but suffice to say people will and do attempt to take advantage commercially. And with so much free and rich social media content advice at the ready are we creating the pathway for an expectation of more? Pick you brains… no thanks.
Coffee Catch Ups or Meetings
Let’s take a granular look into the whole bullshit of coffees vs a meeting. A ‘lets grab or have a coffee’ without any agenda and expressed objectives feels non-committal, flippant and disingenuous. Unless you are a desperate Andy or Annie that’s not a very inspiring invitation.
A request without a framework shows a lack of responsibility and a brevity of superficiality. After all, a coffee catch up is designed to be short and sharp And if you are going to drive 45 mins each way for a coffee catch up, half your day has gone. Time is money and unless you are donating time for charity and altruistic volunteering then you need to set strong boundaries.
A ‘meeting’ however has more gravitas and respect. The great irony today is that research and knowledge is at our fingertips. So by the time you are face to face a bucket load of knowledge and insights have been consumed. Therefore meetings should have meat and substance.
And the truth is that as an inviter, ideally you should only request meeting people whose sector or services are ones you have genuine interest to buy, refer, collaborate with Sure you may not proceed with your business, but the honest intention to evaluate and qualify should be inherent.
Similarly when hiring interviews are set up. Often poor unsuspecting candidates trot into a meeting after much preparation without any hope of getting the job. Reason is hiring decisions had well and truly been made and companies wanted to pick market IP, other company insights or comparisons etc. Candidates in the hiring ecosystem share similarities with businesses development and client acquisition activities. Both sides of the fence deserve honesty and integrity of intentions.
A meeting should be an open and robust discussion in the determination if there is a business service and general relationship fit. And that can only be done with appropriate time allocated, prior research and a commitment to the agenda intent.
So it begs the question, given business is national and international with technologies at the ready, why you need a coffee meeting at the front end unless it’s paramount to the work and involved. Again I truly believe that the CURB epidemic has sprung from a lazy and duplicitous framework for picking brains for free information.
This has borne out time and time again, you meet someone in good faith and they haven’t invested any time researching your website prior to the meeting. Now this isn’t the case 100% of the time, but a sizeable majority. This is borne in the very fact that a coffee catch up has duplicitous intent and is not viewed with respect.
For the Inviter
- Stop, think and respect the other person before you shoot off a confetti CURB.
- What are your honest intentions?
- Do you just want to pick their brains?
- What is your purpose?
- Could you have a zoom or phone chat first?
- Research the person and business you are meeting with
- Bring in an equal mindset of 2 professionals meeting in good faith.
- Let others decide if your agenda meets theirs.
For the Invitee
- Always feel empowered and valuable
- Ask for a general agenda outline and discussion points
- Be thankful, gracious and respectful.
- Pick up the phone. Often I have had many invitations for coffee, picked up the phone and it was evident that there was no real value in meeting.
- Suggest a Zoom or Skype instead initially
- Encourage they read and review specific articles or website information to discuss together (this really cuts the noise and pick the brains nonsense
For both the Inviter and Invitee
- Have meaningful meetings and be transparent.
- Etiquette and manners is important (especially if via LinkedIn messaging )
- Ditch the cliché of coffee and be more direct.
- Ask for a meeting with intent and provide the venue if not your office.
- Question and analyse your own cognitive biases and fears.
- Your personal brand is in part how you communicate and respect others – be mindful
Everyone in business is trying to survive and thrive, build meaningful relationships and circumnavigate pressures. So do continue to enjoy the rich wonderful dark brew and great meetings but CURB the CURBs !
A version of this article was also exclusively published in SmartCompany