cup of coffee
Image via Lynn Pelkey

The best meeting ever is always one coffee away

by David Salzberg

“Have coffee with everyone you can.” Those were the words of advice my grad school mentor, a producer in his own right, gave me when I first moved to L.A. As of this very moment, they are burned into my brain and probably will be as long as I live here. When I arrived, knowing very few people in town, and keeping the advice of my mentor in mind, I plunged in, somewhat naively at first, and began a virtually non-stop campaign to reach out to anyone and everyone I possibly could think of for the coveted “meet and greet.”

Initially, I began with friends and acquaintances but soon expanded to college alumni, panelists at industry events, and even to people I’d read about in the trades who were doing interesting work and were in positions that I wanted to find myself in one day. Of course, it wasn’t easy and often I was faced with the deafening silence of ignored emails and outright refusals, but to my great surprise, I soon came to see that there are a lot more good-hearted people in the business than you might think, who would agree to chat.

With each person I met, I would learn something new and take that into the next meeting. Whether it was a new concept, or simply understanding the subtle mannerisms and formalities of doing business in the industry, I tried to absorb everything I could. Of course, most of these meetings didn’t lead to much, except maybe a handshake and “good luck and keep me posted,” followed by a pat on the back. Often you could see the look on their faces as if to say “boy, I’m glad I’m not in his shoes.”

But as they say in sales, you have to go through so many no’s until you get a yes.

And so it was, that I reached out to a very senior executive at a digital media company who agreed to meet with me … in theory. In reality, he kept rescheduling. Whether it was travel, a heavy workload, a doctor’s appointment, or a vacation, he never seemed to be available and kept putting me off.

It happens, of course, when someone will not want to say no, but will just keep making excuses, hoping that you will be the first one to blink and give up, but for some reason, this situation seemed different. Each time he’d postpone, but would ask that I check back in, and so I did, for almost a year. I kept at it, always polite and respectful, but consistent and determined. As long he was game, so was I.

After a while however, I was almost ready to give up and poured my heart out to a friend who had worked with him in the past. The friend encouraged me to keep at it and assured me that it would be worth it. With that word of encouragement, I pressed on and a few months later, this hard to reach executive was working at a new company that was actually hiring. When we finally met, he couldn’t have been nicer. The meeting went great and that same week, I was meeting with one of his senior people about a job opportunity. A few days after that I had a job … I’d say that’s a pretty good meeting!

Ultimately, you are always going to be one phone call, chance encounter, recommendation, or cup of coffee away from your best meeting ever. The question is, are you going to be ready when that moment comes?

David Salzberg

About David Salzberg

Since moving to Los Angeles, David has worked on social media marketing, interactive, branded entertainment, and mobile app projects for ABC, Style, Warner Bros, and HGTV. He recently produced a web-series called "Howard Gets an Interview" and currently works in marketing and brand strategy for an up and coming cable network.

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