Group Speak

By: Troy Nottingham
July 28, 2015

Coffee vs. Golf

(Note: In fairness to you, this post has little to do with research … but, since research is business, it only vaguely fits.)

When I joined the working world (a few years back), most business relationships were made, enhanced, solidified over 3-martini lunches, extravagant dinners or an afternoon on the golf course.  Without the Internet, the business world moved at much slower pace.  There was time (or at least we made the time) to spend all day at lunch or golf.   And because, in the old days, we blended business and personal, an all-night dinner or two was expected.

I spent my fair share of time in these relationship-building exercises.  However, I must admit, I never really enjoyed them.  All I could think about was the time away from the work I could/should be doing and how I’d rather be spending my free time with my family and friends.

So, there is no one on the planet who is happier than I am that the 3-martini lunches and the afternoons chasing the beverage cart around the country club are no longer the only way to have a strong business relationship.   And not just for the obvious reasons.

Today it is acceptable to gather for breakfast or a cup of coffee as a way to connect, catch up, seal a deal or debrief a project.   And, we do this because we have re-prioritized our lives – compartmentalizing business and personal.   Work is work, and the more quickly you finish your work, the sooner you can put everything (and everyone) associated with work aside and play.

But the thing I like most about coffee (vs. golf) is that it signals a shift in priorities.  Coffee, as the basis for a meeting, says 2 things:

  1. Face-to-face interactions and the intimacy they generate are necessary to building a business relationship.
  2. Working efficiently is a top priority.

From vendor to client, it says:  While the work I’m doing for you is important, I recognize how busy your day is and that you have other things to accomplish.  And, I’m going to do everything in my power (starting with this brief and focused meeting) to make your workday shorter.

One of the criteria we use to evaluate new business opportunities is our assessment of whether the client is more or less likely to want coffee (vs. golf) along with their research.