How to have coffee with an influencer (or me)

I don’t much like the term influencer. Partly because it’s the kind of label that many people seem to attach to themselves in their twitter bios, not unlike guru and thought-leader.

Still, as sure as I love sour jelly beans there will always be people we want to get to see because of their perceived value to us. But by the law of meeting karma there are always people who want to see us too.

In the democratic world of the social media universe you see, we are all influencers and schmoozers to a greater or lesser degree.

So take comfort dear coffee-hunter in the knowledge that whoever you are chasing, they are chasing someone too. That’s the law of meeting karma. (just check out anyone’s twitter feed for proof)

Considering I have insight from both sides – as hunter and hunted, as influencer and as schmoozer – here are my Seven Strategies for having coffee with someone you really want to meet

1. In fact people are particularly protective of their coffee times. I have mine in bed in the morning when intelligent conversation is not yet a high priority.

After that I choose to have coffee with a few close friends I don’t see nearly enough. So if we’ve never met, unless you’re suggesting something that can change my life (in a good way) please don’t suggest that we grab a cup of coffee.

2. You could however start with an enticing and relevant personal tweet – everyone likes a mention on twitter– or an interesting email that gives a lot of juicy details. Our inboxes have become our to-do lists (Voicemail not so much.) So make sure your information is compelling enough to stand out.

3. Better too not to tell me that you want to pick my brains. Especially if you’ve never visited my website or attended any of my workshops. Sorry but there’s a fragile ego beneath this tough exterior. Rather suggest a conversation that you think I would find so valuable that I can’t resist spending time with you. (but don’t forget point 1.)

We teach what we most need to learn: About a week ago I sent a rather silly facebook message to an editor I thought would love to meet me because we have so many friends in common. (Erm wrong) Cardinal error: I also added that I wanted to pick her brains. And surprise surprise: she’s under far too much work pressure to see me. No-one I’ve met yet finds the prospect of having their brains picked irresistible!

4. Collaborate and learn more about anyone’s work via facebook or twitter or comment on their blog posts. I’m far more inclined to meet with potential facilitators (many of the people who want to see me want to lecture for QualityLife Company) if we’ve had an interesting interaction on social media for a while before getting an email out of the blue

5. If you’ve been to one of our conferences or workshops, please mention which one. I’m afraid I do (fragile ego again) give greater priority to people who are familiar with our work and our particular brand of facilitation and teaching. By the same token if someone has written a book and I want a meeting with her, I make a point of reading the book first before I write the email. “I haven’t read your book yet but..” has never cracked it as a killer opening line

6. Add value. Mention them in a blog post. Send them a copy of your new book or article (with no strings attached) Mention them on twitter or facebook. But whatever you do don’t lay guilt trips. Sometimes a short, no-need to respond email is the best way to go. Countless follow-ups asking if someone received your email is a sure way to turn someone off and chase them into a reclusive guilt-trip. (trust me I spend a fair amount of time there)

7. Finally, remember that the law of meeting karma is not personal. We all lead fast-paced lives and patience is still a virtue. I’m regularly humbled by the inspiring leaders who agree to meet me but of course there are those who let me know that now is not the time and I hope I take it graciously.

Because if I don’t sulk there’s a chance we might still have coffee one day.  And for those of you who’ve read this far, I like mine skinny and strong

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6 thoughts on “How to have coffee with an influencer (or me)

  1. Reblogged this on Syllable in the City and commented:
    Although I’ve been following (and chatting with) Debby Edelstein on Twitter for a while, I still haven’t met her in person. She shares some great tips on building a strong network and the law of meeting karma. Thanks for allowing me to share this, Debby!

  2. Since reading this article I am ever mindful of using the phrase “can I pick your brain”. I have recently embarked on a journey of striking the right balance between home and work and have met like minded people along the way. I have also found very interesting websites and blogs and find yours in particular a constant source of thought provoking messages. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for this comment Janine. I hope you know that my coffee post – although partly serious – was written firmly with tongue in cheek and I am always delighted to have coffee with interesting and like-minded people!:-)

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