I love coffee dates.
I offer to have coffee dates with almost everyone I come in contact with.
Whether it’s someone wanting to learn how to get started in VO, someone who’s just arriving in LA to begin an acting career, or someone who want more information on Rehearsal, I’m all over coffee dates.
And as I’ve watch engaged, enthusiastic people make great use of their time with me, I’ve jotted down some of their best practices. Use these, and you’ll get a lot more out of the time we spend together. Here’s what you should be thinking when asking me on a coffee date.
1 You’re going to be on time. I understand LA traffic. I get that sometimes, life happens and you’re delayed. But when I’m meeting someone for the first time, I give myself traffic time, parking time, finding the building time, even stuff that you don’t see coming time. I will arrive 1/2 hour to an hour earlier, especially if it’s somewhere I’ve never been. Then, I can chill at the table, in my car, in the lobby, wherever, knowing that I’m within striking distance of where we’re meeting. That way, there’s no time wasted on apologies or complaints about the traffic or how crappy your life is, and we can get down to the business of getting to know each other.
2 You’re going to research me before the date. Actually, you’ve already gotten to know me from my presence online. I’m always surprised and delighted when someone asks me about my radio career, how Heroes happened, what it’s like to have an app like Rehearsal, along with what they want to know. It makes me feel like this hour is important enough to them to maximize it, and getting to know my background may open the doors to questions.
3 You’re going to be clear about what you want. Have a goal that clearly defined when you sit down to talk with me. Make it simple and short, not a laundry list that we’ll never get to. Examples of great “asks” are: “I’m stuck. I don’t even know where to start. What are the first steps I need to take to ______ ?” or “As you approach an audition, what goes through your mind? How do you make the most of those opportunities?” We can always spend more time on the answers to those questions, but make sure we don’t run out of time because the questions are too broad.
4 You’ve going to have some extra questions ready. If we dispatch with what you have for your clear goal with me, we can explore the other things you need. One of my favorite questions is “How can I help you?” and “What would you like?” Have your laundry list of questions you’d like answered somewhere in the notebook you bring so you can ask those if time allows.
5 You pick up the tab. Well, to be fair, you offer to pick up the tab. I won’t let you, but at least I know you’re willing to do so. No, really. Reach for the check, and let me win the tug of war for it. I insist.
In a future article, I’ll be sharing some not so excellent ways to have a coffee date with me, and how to avoid them.
In the comments below, share with all of us your best practices. How do you maximize the opportunity you have when you get an appointment with a potential mentor?
Hope this helps.