Never Drink Coffee Alone: Network online in 30-minute doses

There’s only so much you can learn about your work from books. And if you have a similar condition like me – total lack of ability to understand anything from a bulleted PowerPoint deck – simply attending meetings might not work for you either.

Luckily, there is another way: Talking to people.

I know, this may feel uncomfortable, or potentially a strange thing to do. But talking to people is now easier than ever. No problem they live on the other side of the planet. You’ll find them in front of their laptops easily.

Zoom fatigue? That’s not about being tired of talking to a webcam. It means that it’s dead boring to sit in a meeting for ten, where only two people take turns at speaking and shredding everyone else to pieces (with the bullets I mentioned before). In those meetings, I always wish everyone had their webcam on, to improve the chances of unplanned entertainment in form of the usual “cat on the desk”, “five-year old complaining about her hunger” or “boyfriend who just woke up after his night shift and entered the picture naked, because ‘why would you have your camera on, honey?'” (all of those true stories). But with just 2 people out of 10 on a webcam, most meetings do lack the thrill.

But: Your invitation for a virtual coffee is something different!

Last week, I had my friend Tim (all the names in this post are made up, but the people and situations are real, okay?) explain to me the process of budget forecasting (“Yeah, I’ve seen the slides, Tim. Now show me what do you really do!” And he did!).

And then I got a message from Pavel whose surname I did not recognize:

Ivan, another colleague of mine, explained to me how Process Analytics save us millions of dollars by saving batches of drugs in our manufacturing from going bad (he also said something about Prague’s underground social life in the times of the pandemic – material for a novel!).

“Hey Lukas! Perhaps you will not remember me, we met in UniCredit some seven years ago. I noticed your activities in Toastmasters for the past couple of years. I’ve just joined the company in December, so I’m still quite new here. Let’s meet for a virtual coffee, I’m curious what you’re doing here!”

I finished reading and clicked the “accept” button.

In the meeting later that week, I found out about a Scrum Master training I could join (and signed up for the next day), and invited Jakub to visit MSD Toastmasters. Brilliant!

Most importantly, I was happy to find out that there are more of us out there, networking virtually in 30-minute doses.

The title of Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone” comes to mind. As a big fan of deep work and the need to eliminate interruptions, I’m not going to ask you to fill your calendar with “virtual chatter” sessions. But maybe you have some ideas you have and would like to bounce off a strong intellectual sparring partner. Or maybe there are some ideas you don’t understand well – and would like to have explained to you.

There has never been such time as there is today. The world’s brains are at your fingertips.

I’m ready – I’ve just grounded my coffee beans!

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