We live in an age where we mostly communicate with each other through screens: double tap to like a picture, text a friend back who just called you to catch up (guilty), swipe right on a date (guilty again!), and so on and so forth. So, it can be a bit daunting when you reach out to an editor or influencer to grab a coffee, and they accept to meet you in person.

But don’t sweat it. Below are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you put a coffee date on the calendar, navigate the conversation, and some best practices for following up.

Make the Time and Place Work for Both of You

Congrats! You not only got a response, but you got them interested enough that they’d like to take time out of their busy day to meet you and discuss your clients in more detail.  You’re already halfway there – below are a few tips to get the ball moving:

  • Provide 3-5 dates and times that work for you in the coming weeks within the first 24 hours of them responding. They shouldn’t have to follow up to get a meeting on the books if you’re the one that initiated.
  • Provide at least 3-5 spots that work based on both of your locations.
  • Mention that your schedule is flexible if none of your proposed dates, times and locations work for them, and that you are happy to meet wherever.

Do Your Homework Before You Meet

Just like doing your homework to prep for an upcoming test, looking up an editor before your meeting is also essential so you arrive prepared. Below is a check list of things to do before you meet up:

  • Take about 15-20 minutes prior to meeting (and not the 15-20 minutes right before the meeting) to research their background, recent coverage, and any notable interests they have.
  • Peruse their LinkedIn page and other social media channels to see what they’ve been sharing.

Keep in mind, editors know this is part of the game. They don’t find it weird – in fact they expect it.

Just like doing your homework to prep for an upcoming test, looking up an editor before your meeting is also essential so you arrive prepared. Click To Tweet

The Golden “80/20” Rule

The “80/20” rule is simple: make the conversation eighty percent about them, and twenty percent about yourself (give or take). This is obviously a case by case basis depending on who you’re meeting with, your existing relationship, and how you think the conversation is going, so ultimately follow your gut. Below are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you navigate the conversation:

  • Get to know them on a personal level. Ask them about their background, how they got their start, what they’re currently working on, and anything else you’re curious about, etc. Show that you’re investing in them on a personal and professional level. After all, this is a relationship you’d like to cultivate – it’s not just one and done.
  • Towards the end, mention you want to run a few things past them that you think would be of interest. Propose about 2-3 clients or angles that you think could work well for them given their beat or recent story.
  • After you gauge their interest, mention you’ll follow up with additional details and next steps. Bonus: if you can offer them free samples of something, it never hurts.

Friendly Follow Ups and Courteous Check-Ins

Send a thank you and quick next steps no later than 24 hours after meeting. The note should be only a few sentences with the status of things you discussed (available times you can connect them for an interview with XX, best times for them to visit YY, etc.).

Here’s a checklist to keep in mind as you develop a relationship with them:

  • Don’t push for coverage: If you don’t hear back after a few days you can politely check in and see if there’s anything else you can provide.
  • Ask for feedback: If the story you discussed doesn’t materialize, ask why (in a non-defensive way). If you understand what they need, you can provide better ideas or support the next go-around.
  • Nurture the relationship: If/when your story runs, check in every now and then to say you saw one of their pieces or projects and thought it was cool. Make sure they know you’re not just tapping them when it’s beneficial to you. It’s a give and take for both parties!

Finally, if they end up not covering your story, don’t look at it as a wasted effort. You never know when they may come back with an opportunity, sometimes months down the line. And if not, at least you got some coffee.