“Tam, are you based in the Bay? We should grab coffee.”
I saw this comment on my Facebook post when I shared a podcast interview I did with my friend, Daniel.
I usually say no to 95% of coffee meetings, especially random ones.
But since this guy was Facebook friends with Daniel, I clicked onto his profile.
His name was Brandon Lee.
His Facebook profile showed he had over 2,500 friends. Interesting. It seems like he is well-connected.
Facebook showed us we had 21 mutual friends. Oh wow, most of those folks are people who I respect. Cool.
I message Daniel.
Tam: Who’s this Brandon guy? Should I meet with him?
Daniel: Brandon is one of my mentors. He’s a great dude. You should definitely grab coffee with him.
Tam: Oh wow. OK thanks for that!
Daniel: Yeah, he also writes for Quora. Couple million views. Lots of great answers. You can check out his writing here.
I clicked on his Quora profile and devoured his content. Brandon had 200+ answers on personal development, entrepreneurship, life, and more. Some answers were specifically to the questions that I was going through.
I found myself resonating with many of the stories he answered on Quora.
I message Brandon.
“Hey Brandon, great to meet you! I’m super impressed with your answers on Quora and have so many questions for you. Let’s grab coffee. I can meet you where you are in San Jose. How’s tomorrow at 3pm?”
Brandon and I met that week and my mind exploded during our 2 hour conversation.
Brandon asked good questions, listened well, empathized where I was at, made me feel welcomed, smiled, and blew my mind with some of the topics we talked about.
Fast forward two years later, Brandon is one of my closest friends and also my housemate. We have lived together for 6+ months, went on retreats, and spent lots of quality time.
My whole life would have been different if I had said no to the coffee meeting.
Why did I say yes to meet with Brandon? Why did Brandon say yes to meet with me?
How to make someone like you before they meet you:
We don’t have time to get to know every single person we meet.
As humans, we use filers as a shortcut to determine if someone is worth getting to know.
- Brandon was friends with Daniel, someone who I respect, so Brandon might be a cool person.
- We had 21 mutual friends, many of whom I respected, so Brandon might be someone I respect.
- Daniel told me that Brandon was his mentor. That is super high praise!
- Brandon’s writing helped me learn about his personality, interests, and the way he thinks.
It was so easy to yes at that point because I had already liked Brandon before I met him.
I asked Brandon, why did he ask me to get coffee two years ago? This is his side of the story.
Brandon’s side of the story:
“When I saw the comment thread between Tam and Daniel, and the fact that Tam had interviewed Daniel, that was immediate credibility to me because someone who thinks that Daniel is legit, is probably legit as well. Real recognizes real. I also saw a comment from our mutual Facebook friend, Leonard Kim.
I stalked Tam and saw that he had his own website. I read a little bit from his “About” page, and knew that we would probably get along. It was only then that I decided to reach out to get coffee. Stacked on top of the fact that he was a young, seemingly ambitious Asian dude, I saw more reason to connect.
On a similar note as Tam, he also asked some very great questions, showed a great level of self-awareness around his journey, and had a lot of accomplishments on his belt that resonated with me. Tam was also very open and interested and excited about the thoughts that I was sharing and that contributed to a desire to reconnect with him.
When I continually saw him at events I attended, it was even more credibility added to the tank.”
What does this story mean for you:
You have to put yourself in a position to meet cool people, to meet cool people.
That means you have to be working on interesting things if you want to meet people working on interesting things.
If I never started my podcast, I would have never interviewed Daniel where Brandon would later comment on the Facebook thread.
If Brandon never mentored Daniel or wrote answers on Quora, I would have fewer opportunities to like him before we meet, or even agree to meet in the first place.
These opportunities are something you can’t exactly predict.
I would have never known that I would meet one of my closest friends if I (1) started a podcast (2) interviewed someone passionate about education (3) post it on Facebook (4) say yes to coffee meetings on that thread.
Instead, I put myself in a position for opportunities like this to come up and be ready to say YES.
This concept is not new.
This is like how people can have lots of career capital to attract amazing employers.
This is also like how people can increase their mate value to attract potential romantic partners.
This is unpopular advice because most people want to go to “networking” events and aimlessly meet people. Or copy and paste email templates and hope they say yes to a coffee meeting.
That is valuable, but what is often neglected is working on being someone worth meeting.
Two questions for you:
1) Who are you trying to meet?
An entrepreneur of your favorite company? An author you admire? People who share the same values as you to join your tribe? Get specific.
Write down what you’re looking for even if you don’t know exactly what that entails. A simple start is to write down things you value that you would want in other people. (ex: integrity, ambition, empathy)
Writing what you want down causes less ambiguity on how you spend your energy meeting people.
2) Why would they want to meet with you?
Find out what the other person values. When you ask them for coffee, they are asking themselves “Are you someone worth meeting?” Your goal is to put yourself in a position for them to make it an easy YES, just like how I had an easy yes to meet Brandon for coffee.
- Be someone who is worth meeting.
- Give people easy ways to learn about who you are.
- Put yourself in a position for opportunities like this to happen and say YES once they do.
Thank you to Brandon Lee to contributing to this post and for being an amazing friend/human being. :)
Tam Pham's Blog
I write about my adventures, learnings, and reflections on living my weird, unconventional life. Subscribe below!