The Rainmaking potential of one coffee meeting a week

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
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‘You probably won’t get to the end of this BLOG’

Everyone knows attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and this has impact on the succesful Rainmaker. We live in a virtual world of connectivity, so if managed correctly  the non-virtual world of connectivity delivers disproportionate returns if you are a Rainmaker. This is because it allows you to offer the timeless classic…the hand shake over a coffee.

The hand shake

If you do get to the end of this blog it will discuss why ‘taking a coffee’ should be a metaphor for Rainmaking. Also why it should be in your strategic Rainmaking plan and how to ‘ask for a coffee’.

We list a number of reasons why this is a critical strategy in developing your network and increasing the likelihood of Rainmaking success. It does occupy that space of relationship development that is unlikely to pay off dramatically in the first 12 months. However, it will have multiple effects that are of a positive manner.

Looking for opportunity

Those of you that have attended the infrequent Rainmaker public workshops, I run…they are about strategically building networks of connections… you will possibly be tired of the mantra below because I give it so often.

Very few succesful Rainmakers consider that it is possible to develop and manage an infinite number of relationships.

The Dunbar number comes up many times with successful Rainmakers regarding managing meaningful relationships. Managing a network of 25-50 connections is about right. We have all heard the Pareto axiom on business development: 80% of sales are from 20% of the prospects. Take that further and you have a further variant of this referred to as Prices Law.

Essentially networking to generate business results is not a numbers game.

However taking coffee in your Rainmaking role is a piece of advice that should be easy to action. If you put into practice it will pay dividends. Reflect on the progress you might make by holding 52 short relationship focused meetings over the next 12 months?

According to The Associated Press the following statistics exist.

Attention spans in 1998: 12 minutes in 2008: 5 minutes.

Rainmakers are plugging their strategic value into their networks so this back drop is a critical piece of intel in terms of being the key ‘go-to’ person. You are fighting with this feature of life on a day to day basis. You will struggle to be seen in that way if you are a peripheral figure working every room that you are seen in.

Plug into a memory

Causes of  lost attention span
Stress: 18% and decision overload: 17%

Impact of lost attention span
Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their email: 30
Average length watched for a single internet video: 2.7 minutes

Average Attention of a Product Video
Commercial length time has been reduced from 15 seconds to a maximum of 30 seconds in recent times. Here is a listing of the average time and percentage the audience will watch a webcast for:

  • 10 seconds or less: 89.61%
  • 20 seconds or less: 80.41%
  • 30 seconds or less: 66.16%
  • 60 seconds or less: 46.44%
  • 2 minutes or less: 23.71%
  • 3 minutes or less: 16.62%
  • 5 minutes or less: 9.42%

Based on those averages, a third of the audience is lost by the 30 second mark. This can be applied to meeting people and presentations too.

You probably won’t get to the end of this article. Everyone knows attention spans are shorter.

Internet Browsing Statistics

  • Percent of page views that last less than 4 seconds: 17 %
  • Percent of page views that lasted more than 10 minutes: 4 %
  • Percent of words read on web pages with 111 words or less: 49 %
  • Percent of words read on an average (593 words) web page: 28 %
  • Users spend only 4 seconds more for each additional 100 word.

On this basis to become the memorable key ‘go-to’ person will require more than glad handing a room and clicking the thumbs-up button on a social media platform. So…we thank the world for coffee.

Our view is you should work with a small base of people, you can connect with strategically, on a Rainmaking basis to generate social-commercial-comfort.

Social Commercial Comfort 5next

Who to ask?

In the first instance think Dunbar. Look to develop a contact group of around 25 to be developed over the next 12 months. Ensure that these people have some likelihood of being 1° of separation from your marketplace or relate to your marketplace in some way. This is not a prospecting mission or a precursor to winning a client. This is network maintenance in a world of network degradation. 

How to ask

This is a tactical approach designed to increase the likelihood of generating a coffee. This will not require an excessive level of social-commercial-comfort.

Give a context for having coffee

  • Make a specific ask or reason that fits with the context
  • Recognise they are busy
  • Express gratitude if they can make the time
  • Ensure your proposal is convenient
  • Ensure that you will provide them value within a professional context

If you ask someone to meet you which is essentially to take up some of their time; without indicating the reason, is a poor connection strategy. When you specify why you want to get together with somebody it does create the following benefits

  • You are marking their card that potentially you can help them
  • You are marking their card that potentially they can help you
  • Your offer of help signals that you are not just taking their time
  • In real terms you are making them feel valuable

Asking for time with someone without indicating why is a weak connecting strategy. 

Give them a time frame

I would be grateful for 20 minutes

It is important to manage expectations and if you give a specific time commitment people more likely to meet with you. Everyone has 15-20 minutes to give. If it is appropriate you can use that timeframe to set up a later meeting that could last longer.

Match it into their daily regime

I was thinking of somewhere and a time that matched with your diary

A coffee first thing in the morning around 0815 or a coffee at the tail end of the day around 1730 works well in Manchester and Warsaw as examples. 

Let them know there is something in it for them

Last time I saw you, you were hiring software developers and I may have some friends who I think would be a good fit… either now or at a later date.

The best way to get someone to make time for you is to demonstrate that you can add value to their life. Think of what you can do for them.

This strategy will not guarantee that every phone call or email elicits the opportunity to take coffee. It does give you an opportunity to:

  • Communicate you are valuable
  • Show you are proactive
  • You see them as valuable
  • You are open for business
  • You know that they are open for business
  • Push back on the limited attention span that people give people
  • Keep your network in good shape

If someone could be a key connection then treat them that way.

Set yourself initially the target to do this twice a month and then refine the process by having planned conversations with the 25 people you know who over the next 12 months are 1° of separation from your market. This will have a disproportionate return compared to generally connecting up with all and sundry.

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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