The personal website of Chris Coyier

Grab a Coffee

“We’d love to grab a coffee.”

Standard operating procedure for emails from someone who wants to meet with you and see if the things you are working on are mutually beneficial in some way. Seemingly harmless, but for people who are very busy working on things all the time, it comes across as almost rude. It doesn’t respect time. Of course I don’t want to sit around and just theorize ways we can work together, I’d rather be, you know, actually working. I’d way rather you come with fully formed ideas. That is usually highly effective on me.

Of course Paul Grahm has a great article which mentions this, quoted here:

Business people in Silicon Valley (and the whole world, for that matter) have speculative meetings all the time. They’re effectively free if you’re on the manager’s schedule. They’re so common that there’s distinctive language for proposing them: saying that you want to ‘grab coffee,’ for example.

Speculative meetings are terribly costly if you’re on the maker’s schedule, though. Which puts us in something of a bind. Everyone assumes that, like other investors, we run on the manager’s schedule. So they introduce us to someone they think we ought to meet, or send us an email proposing we grab coffee. At this point we have two options, neither of them good: we can meet with them, and lose half a day’s work; or we can try to avoid meeting them, and probably offend them.

So responding to these “grab a coffee” requests is a lose-lose scenario. That’s a bummer isn’t it? Maybe there could be some social convention that makes these two ideas sync up a little nicer. Perhaps a hard-promise that the meeting won’t be longer than 10 minutes.

Not that this happens to me very often, but my usual is to let them know conferences I’ll be at soon. I feel that’s pretty genuine because at conferences I’m usually super happy to talk about work-ish things and have already factored in that I won’t be directly working.

Via Craig Mod