Coffee dates (sometimes called one-to-ones) may be old-fashioned, but if you are looking for referrals and clients, virtual coffee dates can help you a lot.
Some entrepreneurs shy away from virtual 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 virtual coffee date.
If virtual 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 virtual coffee date, what to share, and what to do after it’s over, so that you end up with referrals, and eventually, clients.
So, grab a cup of coffee – and let’s get started!
Coffee dates are when you and another entrepreneur meet for coffee to see how you can give each other referrals. Typically, these are done in person – but with social distancing rules, it’s time to get comfortable with doing coffee dates virtually.
Virtual coffee dates are as effective as in-person coffee dates. It’s important, though, to create a process to help ensure your success. Here’s what I suggest:
#1: Asking for a virtual coffee date
If you identify someone you would like to meet for a virtual coffee date, here’s what you need to say:
“I believe I can refer clients you. Would you like to meet virtually 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?
#2: Identify how you’ll meet online
Leverage the video conferencing tools out there, including Zoom, Facetime, and Skype, so that you can see the person while you’re meeting virtually. If none of those options are available, you can always call each other.
#3: What to do during the coffee date
Before you start your coffee date, make sure you have 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 email your referral partner once the call is over.
Next, as soon as you start your coffee date, remind him 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. Don’t be shy about setting a timer either.
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, 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.
#4: After the coffee date
The post-coffee date is super important, and it’s often a step that’s forgotten by entrepreneurs.
Once the coffee date concludes, 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). Send your Ideal Client flyer as an attachment.
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, invite someone today to do a virtual coffee date with you. 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 virtual coffee date success!