The advice-seeking coffee or lunch is standard fare in most business communities. It usually goes something like this: you email someone you admire and ask if you can chat. Sometimes you are ignored. When you’re lucky, your role models will say yes, and you now have someone you respect in your corner.
Entrepreneur Steve Blank gets these requests all the time, and he has advice for those seeking his (and other busy folks’) time:
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.
Include how you’ll help the other party in the meeting request. Not only can you offer them value, but it serves as yet another sounding board for your ideas. Brilliant.