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A Recipe for SMART Coffee.

How to avoid spending hours in coffee meetings that go nowhere following up after networking events.

By Brenda Thomson

Most networking events provide very little time for people to get to know one another. Typically you’ll meet 10 – 20 people and perhaps have the start of a quality conversation with 5 or 6. 

The usual post script to those conversations goes something like “ let’s catch up for a coffee and find out more about each other’s businesses”.  How many cups of coffee do you have time to have with the wrong people?

When I started my business half of my time was filled with coffee meetings, 99% of which were fruitless, and many of which turned into someone trying to sell me something. 

So here’s my recipe for SMART Coffees.


1 cup of shared values

1 cup of shared target market

2 cups of clearly defined goals and objectives

A tablespoon of agreed agenda

A good pinch of collaboration

A good pinch of lateral thinking.

2 pinches of open mind.

1 teaspoon of agreed next step.


  1. Set the timer and put the clearly agreed agenda on the table.
  2. Add the cups of understanding of shared values and shared target market.  NOTE: If these turn out to be miss-matched it is most often better not to proceed with completing the recipe as the results are not likely to be to the taste of either party.
  3. Stir in both cups of clearly defined objectives and mix until thoroughly understood by both parties.
  4. Throw in the collaboration, lateral thinking and open mind and see what comes out.  Sometimes you will need to do a lot of sifting at this stage to find the best options for both parties.  Here are 101 ideas for ways small businesses can work together
  5. Check that the mix is consistent with the goals and objectives of both parties and that you are both comfortable with any risks and costs involved. Here’s a link to a Strategic Partnership Checklist to help make sure you’ve covered everything
  6. Document what you have agreed.
  7. Put the mix in the oven and set a timer for the agreed next step.

NOTE: It is not always possible to identify an immediate solution which will meet the goals and objectives of both parties. Sometimes the agreed next step may be to revisit the SMART Coffee in three, six or even twelve months’ time when the timing is right.

Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.


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