No, I don’t want to meet for coffee

Jo Watson


By the way, this blog has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t actually like coffee, or the fact that my business card is a teabag.*

I presented at the national Copywriting Conference (CopyCon, if you’re cool) in October 2019. My little speech was all about utilising short and long form written content on social media for building (and boosting) brands.

Naturally, there were plenty of analogies from my own social submissions that I was able to draw upon. Rather than talk about the actual content, however, I talked about something much more important. The reaction.

Building a brand is all about values. So, through the wisdom I attempted to impart on my fellow copywriters, I used my own LinkedIn experience as a story explaining how getting myself a few trolls and tellings-off has actually helped me share a very important brand value.

The value in question is that I don’t like wasting people’s time – and I certainly don’t like having mine wasted, either.

Let’s face it, when it comes to social media – LinkedIn in particular – I’ve got form for annoying a small minority of people with my posts and comments.

Believe it or not, I don’t do this deliberately (as in trying to goad people), but I do do it naturally, because I write how I speak (warning: contents may be sweary).

I post things that play into the hands of those people who I imagine must be a fucking riot over on Facebook, where apparently all the human emotion and fun belongs.

If I think something brings benefit through saying or sharing, and I have a rationale behind it along with the knowledge that it’s not going to have me hauled up on some kind of discrimination or criminal charge, I’ll craft it into copy and I’ll put it out there.


Because that’s what good writers do.

Though I then find, as a result, that people may disagree with my less-than-vanilla opinions (good – I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and I actually want to learn from other people’s views).

I also often have to go through the whole dance whereby people will actively go out of their way to tell me – either publicly or privately – that they’d never do business with me, either because of my values or because of how I’ve written them down.

At first, I used to get quite upset by this, as I couldn’t stand the thought of people actively disliking me so much. I’d really take it to heart and, for a short while afterwards, I wouldn’t post anything. Or if I did, I’d really censor the content and tone. FYI, those posts were dull as fuck.

Then, I used to get annoyed by the dismissal, and started going out of my way to justify everything I’d already tried to convey in the original offending post, in the hope that I could turn these people around to my way of thinking. So they understand that, actually, if I write for you, I write what YOU want, dickhead. Okay, I didn’t write that last bit out loud.

And now?

I’m actually quite happy that people are actively ruling themselves out as future clients. I don’t want to work with people who somewhere down the line will realise that we don’t gel.

What a waste of time that would be! I want people to feel like they know me, and feel confident in trusting me, and I want this from the start. So it’s up to me to show those qualities through what I write and how I write it.

That’s why I put myself out there so boldly. You’ll never know everything about me, but the stuff I choose to put out there… trust me, if you find you don’t like me or my writing style based on my online presence, I’m really doing you a favour in ‘real life’.

What’s this got to do with coffee?

We’ve all been there: a potential client wants to get to know you, and so suggests meeting for a coffee (I don’t even bloody like coffee, but whatever).

You book time out of your day, and if that happens to be one of the days where you were going to work from home, you make a point of dragging your arse out of your sweatpants and into the shower.

You drive to the venue, you wait at the venue, and you waste time in the venue on small talk before the drinks are even ordered. You then invariably pay for the coffees yourself out of extreme politeness, all along resenting it because it wasn’t actually you who asked for the meeting in the first place.

And then, after a good hour of the other person telling you either a) all of their problems, or b) why they’re so fucking awesome if they do say so themselves, you drive back home, never to hear from that person again.

Why does this play out? Either because you didn’t gel, or because your coffee buddy viewed you as an unknown entity having done zero research, and just instead wanted to scope you out without any real interest in taking you seriously.

After a lot of hard work both on and offline, I don’t need to do the coffee thing with potential clients, because if they found me after having followed me online, I’ll have worked hard to make sure they already feel as though they know me, and they’ll come to a decision quickly about if they want to work with me or not.

It really is my favourite thing about how my business has evolved. Clients already know before they’ve even met me if they want to work with me or not.

And if they didn’t find me online (LinkedIn in particular)? Purely out of courtesy, I suggest to them before we go reaching for those diaries that they do indeed have a quick scan of my profile, so that they can go ahead and decide if they really want to share a sofa and a scone with me for the best part of an hour.

Get to know me, without even leaving your laptop.

I really do love being sociable and meeting new people, but I like to put us both in a position where we know it’s likely going to be worth it and that we’ll definitely bring something good into each other’s lives. Otherwise, I’m not going to waste your time.

So, do you really fancy that coffee?

*Yes, really. It is.


26th February 2020

Alasdair Murray

Great post. I am very similar. I’ve worked from home for myself for 19 years this year and, the more time goes on, the less bothered I can be to meet up for a coffee, or even some red wine (and it takes a lot for me to turn down a red wine quaffing opportunity). I’m quite vociferous on Twitter too – and not generally about work (which probably scares off a few too). I don’t have time to play the game. A lot of my clients are people who have known me for years. Other newer ones I may well have never met, such is the power of the internet and that thing called email. in fact the last time i met for a coffee with someone I remember it didn’t work out too well. I thought they were a bit of an arse to be honest. Long and short is, people know what I do, and what I can offer them. Losing half a day’s pay for some pleasantries doesn’t cut it with me. I’ll do a good job at a good price and you will get the work back quickly too. Let’s not faff about over a skinny latte!

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