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Trend spotting - Coffee is the new lunch

June 28, 2009

Trend spotting - Coffee is the new lunch

Times change. "Green is the new black." Who could have imagined that two clashing forces - the Fashion Media and Birkenstockers - would stand united by this simple phrase? Surpassing its creators' wildest dreams, "green is the new black," has brought these disparate groups together. No doubt about it, the environment is on everyone's lips and minds.

But in the corporate world, there is another trend ready to make the jump from fringe to mainstream. We're not talking about a life-changing phenomenon. Not another Kyoto Accord, but a milestone, nonetheless. "Coffee is the new lunch."business meeting over coffee
There, you have it. A simple concept, but one charged with implications.

Blame it on the economy, or clever Starbucks marketing or scientific research on coffee's antioxidant properties. Or maybe cappuccino has been waiting in the wings ever since martini glasses disappeared from Power Lunch tables? The point is, everyone's going for coffee. Not as in "break," but for networking and deal making and sharing information - the business of doing business.

Lunch itself is still around - in food courts, cafeterias and even park benches at this time of year. But when it comes to one-to-one meetings, "coffee" is at the forefront. There are some practical reasons for this shift to coffee shops. Compared to sorting out a lunch menu, ordering coffee is a breeze and a coffee shop is also neutral territory. When you consider the distractions of lunch at a restaurant, plus the time factor and the cost - this change of venue makes sense. Especially when you're just getting to know someone - rather like a first date.
What took us so long to make the transition?

The time is ripe to establish a few coffee-culture guidelines:

* Location counts. Pick a spot near a potential client's office, not across town.
* Plan on one hour, tops.
* Be Prepared. Not in the official Baden-Powell sense, but notebook, pen, your company brochure, some conversation starters and background on the person you're meeting.
* Punctuality reigns. There is no excuse, short of a tsunami, that is acceptable. But just in case, be sure to exchange cell phone numbers.
* Business attire mandatory. Whether you've just left your home-office or are on the way to meet your trainer, jogging suits are for the gym. Period.
* Dedicated tea drinker? No worries - plenty of choices from Earl Grey to chamomile. If you're the host, be certain to suggest a top-of-the-line mochaccino - or one of its relatives to your guest - before placing your own modest order.
* Frappuccino , mocha latte, or macchiato - frazzled by all that barista lingo? Check this out for confidence building:
* The protocol of who pays is simple. If you extend the invitation, you pick up the cheque - or in this case, pay the cashier. And remember the tip jar.
* Turn off your cell phone and forget about it. Off limits. Same for texting. Nothing goes on the table except your cup. The one and only one exception - you're a doctor on call.
* Follow-up. Acknowledge the meeting and send an e-mail within a day or two.

So, when you realize you've just said; "Nice to meet you," and you meant it - the next step is simple. "How about coffee next week?" That's it. Nice and easy, in less than five minutes, you've made a cappuccino-connection.

For more information contact:
Diane Craig
Corporate Class Inc.
Phone: 416-967-1221
Cell: 4160550-6694

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