The Key To Productive Coffee Meetings

How to make the most of everything that comes after “Let’s grab coffee!”

The Key To Productive Coffee Meetings
[Image: Flickr user Billy Rowlinson]

A coffee meeting is like a work date: It’s you, them, and the potential for some sort of connection, or, as the MBA kids say, business development. However, unlike a date, you’re allowed to take notes–and that can make all the difference.


Why? Because as Behance managing editor Sean Blanda writes, the right notes allow you to make the right follow-up–and maybe the right opportunity.

Picture this coffee situation.

You and your coffee meeting person are having an awesome conversation about startup life or cronuts or productivity. He mentions a book you should read. You talk about a video you saw. He wants to introduce you to someone who can hook you up with a cronut.

If you don’t take out a notebook at the start of the talk and jot down the name of book, video, or possible introduction, you’ll both forget as soon as you leave the cafe and dissolve into your inbox.

However, if you do arm yourself with a leaf of paper, you can make a note of what you need to do. Blanda likes to makes two columns with the headings “My Homework” and “Their Homework,” adding the person’s name, their company, and the day’s date at the top. It’s a classic case of how productive people are the ones who take better notes.

The follow-up

Then, immediately after the meeting, set a reminder to follow up in the next day or so. When that reminder hits, turn back to your notebook–voila, there’s the business that needs to be taken care of.


Blanda offers the following spot-on example:

“Hey Josh, it was great to meet you, thanks for being so generous with your time. To follow up on some of the things I mentioned:
This is the video of my favorite 99U talk.
That restaurant I like by your house is called Stoops; here’s the Yelp link.
Here is a link to that blog post I wrote that I told you about.
Also, you mentioned you had a contact at firm X? I’d love to speak with her: let me know if I can provide you with anything to make this easier.

Thanks again,


The lesson here? Take coffee meetings, take notes, make connections.

Hat tip: 99u

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.