Since my face-to-face meetings are at my clients' offices or their chosen off-site locations, I have no need for commercial office space. This expense would only add a commute to my life, reducing the amount of time I could work on my assignments.
I do have a need to meet with other consultants and contacts to work on projects or to network. For these meetings, coffee places are excellent. Chains like Starbucks, Costa and Tim Horton's and independents offer a dynamic space with ample room and refreshments. They are inexpensive too.
Here are some tips to make the most of your coffee place business meetings:
- Pick a location that is easily accessible for all parties―commuting time is a cost for everyone
- Visit the cafe before scheduling a meeting around the time you plan to meet―is there enough seating, is it too noisy, is it conducive to collaboration and conversation?
- Check for wi-fi access―invariably someone will need to access something on the internet
- Arrive early so you can find the best spot to sit―this week, I arrived second and five minutes late, which is bad form
- Pick a spot away from the door―weather and constant traffic can be distractions
- Offer to buy your meeting attendees coffee―it's good form
- Tip those who take your order―it's a small recognition for the use of their space
- Ask if you can check the time―it's difficult to do surreptitiously and I always go overtime if I don't
- Offer to dispose of everyone's cups, etc.―it's a courtesy
- Ask others if they liked the cafe as a meeting location―this could become a regular meeting spot or somewhere you won't return to
Coffee places are excellent business meeting spots. This week, I had a meeting in a converted book store that had the old world charm of its 88 year history. It was a perfect backdrop for our conversation.