Did you land a coffee chat with a prospect? Congratulations — it can be tricky getting people to block off time in their jampacked calendar. Many people agree to coffee meetings because they’re less formal and more conversational. Meeting for a cup of coffee is something many people do with friends, which can make the discussion feel more natural.

Since coffee meetings are still business meetings, you should follow a few best practices to get the most out of the experience. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share some guidance from Sean Blanda, the VP of content at Crossbeam, on how you can have a fantastic coffee chat.

1. Be upfront with your intentions. Never tell someone you’d like to “pick their brain.” Instead, Blanda says it’s better to introduce yourself, show you have specific knowledge about their work, explain why you’d like to chat and offer some potential meeting times.

2. Prepare well. When someone takes time to meet you for coffee, you should know the basics about them. You can get much of this information, like where they work and what they do, from social media. Blanda says coffee chats typically take 30 minutes or less, so don’t waste time on topics you could research in advance.

3. Get there early. You should arrive at the coffee shop before your prospect. Arriving late isn’t a good look. Blanda recommends getting there at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule to get a table, if possible.

4. Offer to pay. This is the polite thing to do considering that the other person is generously giving you some of their time. However, if they strongly object and prefer to pay for their coffee, let them. Blanda says you should never spend more than 5 seconds discussing who will pay.

5. Have one clear, specific ask. Remember the reason you invited the other person for a coffee chat. Then, ask them point-blank how they can help you or what you are looking for. They agreed to help when they accepted the meeting, Blanda says, so make it easy for them.

6. Add value. As you chat with the prospect, listen for ways you might be able to help them. Or, you could ask at the end of the conversation if you can help in any way. Blanda recommends being authentic and not overcommitting to something you can’t reasonably do.

7. Take notes. Use pen and paper to jot down important takeaways from the coffee chat. This shows your enthusiasm and attentiveness. Blanda says he likes to create two columns on a piece of paper. One has the heading “My Homework” and the other “Their Homework.”

8. End on time. Whether you blocked off 15 or 30 minutes, adhere to your scheduled time. Even if you’re engaged in a compelling conversation, stop and ask the other person if they have to go, Blanda says. It’s important to respect their time.

Coffee chats can open the door to new business relationships. Since they take place in a coffee shop and not an office setting, they can help put prospects at ease and make the conversation flow more comfortably. The ideas above can help you be more intentional with your coffeehouse connecting.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Sean Blanda is the VP of content at Crossbeam, a B2B SaaS company.