Asking, “Can I have coffee with you to pick your brain?” is probably the worst possible way to get a meeting with someone with a busy schedule. Here’s a better approach.
So Steve Blank out at Silicon Valley came up with this method to sort out who he take meetings with:
What are you offering?
If I’d had infinite time I’d take every one of these “can I have coffee” meetings. But I don’t. So I now prioritize meetings with a new filter: Who is offering me something in return.
No, not offering me money. Not for stock. But who is offering to teach me something I don’t know.
The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, “I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.”
This offer of teaching me something changes the agenda of the meeting from a one-way, you’re learning from me, to a two-way, we’re learning from each other.
It has another interesting consequence for those who are asking for the meeting – it forces them to think about what is it they know and what is it they have learned – and whether they can explain it to others in a way that’s both coherent and compelling.
Irony – it’s Customer Discovery
While this might sound like a, “how to get a meeting with Steve” post, the irony is that this “ask for a two-way meeting” is how we teach entrepreneurs to get their first customer discovery meetings; don’t just ask for a potential customers time, instead offer to share what you’ve learned about a technology, market or industry.
It will increase your odds in any situation you’re asking for time from very busy people – whether they are VC’s, company executives or retired entrepreneurs.
- Lessons Learned
- Wanting to have coffee is an ask for a favor
- Offering to share knowledge is a different game
- Try it, your odds of getting a meeting will increase
- And the meetings will be more productive
Read more Steve Blank posts at www.steveblank.com.