Coffee Shop Networking 101
I spend a lot of time in Coffee Shops. I love coffee shops. So, it may surprise you to learn, I really don’t like coffee. Well in the purist form. I like my coffee to be iced, with lots of mocha, caramel, cream, and sugar.
Seeing that I really don’t like coffee, it is reasonable to ask why am I spending so much time in coffee shops? The answer is simple. It’s the people that come in and out of the coffee shop daily. I have found my local coffee shop is a great place to network and develop new business.
Coffee shops by their nature are very social and generally very local. They are where businessmen and women have their meetings and old friends go to catch up on their lives.
I personally prefer locally owned coffee shops. The chains just don’t have the character the local shops have. I have also been a longtime advocate of shopping local. Several years ago, as Mayor of Stuart, Florida I created the Shop Local Shop Smart program to promote small locally owned businesses.
Most locally owned coffee shops have a theme. One of my favorite coffee shops in Stuart, Florida is The Roasted Record. In addition to roasting their own coffee, more on that later, they sell vinyl records. Believe it or not, vinyl is making a comeback and there people out there who say vinyl records sound better. I will leave that discussion for another blogger.
The Roasted Record is more than just a coffee shop; they are coffee roasters as well. All of their coffee is roasted in small batches right in their shop. Their coffee is wholesaled to other coffee shop as well as sold retail at their shop.
Another one of my favorite coffee shops is the Bunkhouse Coffee Bar in Jensen Beach, Florida. The Bunkhouse is 100% plant based. Completely vegan. At the Bunkhouse all the milks and creams are plant based. I personally like Almond Cream and Milk in my iced coffee. They have a great selection of plant base selections. One of their most popular is their Breakfast Sandwich. Give them a try sometime.
Start Building your Coffee Shop Network
Let’s start with the basics of Coffee Shop Networking. The first thing you need to do is find a coffee shop. I have told you about two of the best. But you might not be in Stuart or Jensen Beach. That’s ok. There are lots of coffee shops out there.
Start out by finding a shop in the area where you are or want to be working. Once you find a place, go in and check it out. Order a coffee, sit down, and relax. You will want to make sure they have a good WIFI signal with highspeed internet. Check out the coffee and the talk to the staff. Make sure it is a place you want to spend time. It may take a trip or two.
Once you find the coffee shop you are going to call home you can get to work building your coffee shop network.
One of the most important rules of coffee shop marketing is spending money in the coffee shop. You may be there for hours at a time, taking up a table, using the WIFI and the facilities. Make sure you are ordering coffee and/or snacks while there. Please don’t forget to tip the staff. They are working hard to ensure you have a great experience every time you come into the shop.
Start off slow by just spending some time in the shop. You will quickly see who the regulars are. As time goes on you will get to know who is approachable and who isn’t. Start to introduce yourself to the regulars. Be straightforward, start the conversation off by asking about them. Find out what they do and how you can refer clients to them. Always be respectful of their time and relationships.
Once you have a foothold you should start scheduling your own meetings at the shop. It is good to arrive a few minutes early to ensure you get a table. Remember most local coffee shops are small with limited seating. As time goes on and you get to know all the regulars, the clients you invite to meetings will notice how many people at the shop know you and what you do for a living. This will boost the confidence prospective clients have in you and your abilities. You will often find your clients like the shop so much they become regulars as well.
Promote yourself and your chosen coffee shop on social media. Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews of the shop are a great way to start. I regularly post pictures of myself working at my chosen shop to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Don’t forget the tag your meeting guest and the coffee shop in your post.
As your network grows, and you become one of the regulars your opportunities to grow your business will increase. I have found people have started coming into the coffee shop hoping to run into me and ask me questions. It is important to be social and open to conversations. That will help you grow your network.
If you would like to try either The Roasted Record or The Bunkhouse Coffee Bar you can check out their websites.
Coffee Shop Networking 101 was written by Troy McDonald who is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty in Stuart, Florida. He is also an Elected City Commissioner and Mayor of Stuart, Florida.