The other day I scheduled to meet with a new client over coffee at one of the many local Panera Bread locations (http://www.panerabread.com/) . Why Panera for a meeting? 1) It was a convenient location for both parties 2) They have Great Coffee 3) They offer Free WiFi. Heck.. At times, employee’s of Panera will even walk around giving free food samples. It doesn’t get much better than that. Panera Bread is one of the first restaurant chains that understands the value of opening their doors and enticing the “connected” public in such a wholehearted way. Other chains have tried similarly but fall short by tagging on a cost to the WiFi. I don’t see myself visiting their locations when given the choice.
The meeting was pretty much a normal sales meeting. I was using my laptop. Showing off our work.. bouncing back and forth around the Internet as we talked… etc.. What wasn’t normal is that I had an audience at the next table too. After I wrapped up my scheduled meeting, and my clients left, it was only a minute or two before I was swapping cards and hosting a second unscheduled sales meeting, with these two gentlemen (both from different companies I might add…) who were sitting at the table next to me.
I worked in Corporate America for many years during my 22 year career. I know what it is like to meet with the same people, in the same board room, talking about the same things, for what can seem like months at end. Do your clients a favor.. Ask them to go have a cup of coffee… You never know who else you might meet.