Reaching out to clients and colleagues while working remotely can seem awkward, especially if there is no apparent reason for doing so. The value of connecting during this time is in preserving and enhancing relationships by showing genuine care.
The most effective way to do a “virtual coffee break” is one person (be it client or colleague) at a time.
I suggest you consider these steps:
- Make a list of coffee candidates NOW before this idea slips away… put a few names down… if only two or three individuals come to mind, that’s fine — it’s enough to get started… add more as they occur to you. Candidates might include clients (past and present), referral sources, colleagues (who you may not be interacting with as much as usual because you/they are working from home), as well as any other individuals who are important to you professionally. Personal friends and family are important too but they go on a different list.
- Choose a person from your list. Don’t procrastinate – just do it!
- Text or email suggesting a 10-15-minute virtual coffee break.
- Your communication might be something like: “Matthew/Elizabeth, I hope you are well. It has been a while since we last spoke… I’d like to catch up over a virtual coffee if that sounds good to you. Would Wednesday at 3pm or Thursday at 11am work better for you? (Feel free to tell me if we need other options). Have a wonderful day.”
- Assuming an affirmative response, send a Zoom (or Microsoft Team) invitation.
- At the virtual coffee break, really have a beverage at hand (coffee, tea, water…).
- Ask how she/he is doing and be an attentive listener. Do not allow the conversation to deflect to yourself right away. Be gracious, but still persistent with caring and curiosity. Find out how your coffee break companion is REALLY doing. Also – an important note – be sure to use your judgement to not over-reach.
- After the call, make a note or two. You will be glad to remember details two months later when you circle back to check in again.
- Throw a reminder into your calendar to touch base again after what you consider to be a reasonable period of time.
This is so simple that you might just discount the idea and not do it. That would be a mistake.
Shoot me a note if you would like to set up a virtual coffee break with me — I can show you some strong anecdotal evidence as to why these “virtual coffee breaks” are so powerful.