Who do you need to have coffee with? It’s a simple question that I have found to be a surprisingly useful call to action at any time–including the end of a skills workshop.
A nudge for all of us, here and now
If you sit back right now and ponder The Coffee Question, you will no doubt come up with at least 2-3 names. A client, a colleague, a sounding board, a mentor, an old friend, a contact from the conference. [I just paused and did this. It took all of 10 seconds to write down three names: my successor on an industry board with whom I have been meaning to check in; an old friend from university working in Vancouver; and a dynamic professional acquaintance I played a few rounds of “we should get together” with before her maternity leave, now finished.]
Go one step further by picking up the phone or firing off one email invitation and you will have started (or re-started) something in your network—a conversation that could lead anywhere.
Bonus points if you take that cuppa on a walk
Consider making that coffee date a walking date. Besides the health and energy boost, there are other less obvious benefits nicely set out in a recent, rather ominously titled, post on the HBR Blog Network, Sitting is the Smoking Of Our Generation. Physically getting out of the box seems to get the creative juices flowing. Walking along side by side puts ideas and problems out there in front of you, more open for discussion—as a mum of a 5 year old boy, I know first-hand how true this is! Mobile devices tend to get tucked away, minimizing distraction. And you inevitably end on an energized note.
A practice tip for L&D programmers
Instead of asking “what’s one thing you will do differently?”, try The Coffee Question at the end of a session. It’s specific, non-threatening, easy to do, and applicable to all levels. People like pondering it, and discussing it with others. It’s a nice conclusion to a session on business development or mentoring. And it can also be asked at the end of a retreat or conference (“one person you want to follow up with after today”), or a skills workshop (“one person you could sit down with over coffee to continue working on this”).