Since my daughter was born in February many things have changed. I get less sleep but one smile from her is better than four shots of espresso. I change a lot of diapers but to be honest, human biology has always fascinated me so this really just legitimizes my interest in poo. And lastly, I’ve become more thoughtful in how I spend my time since ‘family’ means something different now.
One casualty of this reduced flexibility is the ‘coffee meeting.’ I’m still getting the chance to talk with lots of interesting new friends but increasingly it’s over the phone, video chat, or at my home later in the evening once our baby has gone to sleep. Leaving time for new introductions or conversations is really important to me. Some might say we’re in the golden age of tech, but I actually think it’s the golden age of PEOPLE in tech. There are just so many smart, creative, kind, earnest folks working on worthy projects, that I want to try and be helpful. However I’ve also found that most requests for conversation are done without enough pre-planning or pre-qualification and this can make poor use of time.
By asking a few questions over email, I can usually figure out whether or not I can be helpful, and also focus our conversation. But it gets cumbersome and wastes time to have the back & forth so I’m thinking of another solution: a brief form that I ask people to complete after they request getting together. Just to be clear, I’m not asking friends to justify hanging out. More so the coldcall emails and friend of a friend introductions.
Here’s the type of info I was thinking of collecting:
1. Are you okay w phone or video chat? If it doesn’t have to be in-person, this will allow us to connect much sooner. If it has to be in-person, why?
2. Is 15-30 minutes sufficient? If more time needed, why?
3. Will you be able to send me any relevant materials at least 24hrs in advance of our conversation? If not, I cannot promise to have reviewed them.
4. What is you goal of this conversation? How are you hoping I can help you?
5. Contact info and a picture (so if we are meeting in person, I can spot you)
It’s not just about me screening folks that want to meet, although I could imagine telling someone that I don’t think I can be of help to them. Rather it’s mutual expectation setting and preparation which respects the value of their time and mine.
So what do you think? Will this rub people the wrong way? I don’t want to come off as a jerk or somehow signal that I believe I’m more important than they are. What other questions should I ask?