Written by Lori Thiessen

To be honest, I’m a little tired about all the buzz about networking. It does make a difference to your work life and social life but there is something … something inorganic and unnatural about it all.

The coffee shop makes networking somewhat more natural. It seems reasonable to strike up a conversation with someone over a cup of coffee. Samuel Pepys, the famous 17th century diarist, haunted the coffeehouses of his day for various reasons. He went for ‘sodality’ , to hang out with the guys. He went to hear debates on different topics. Mostly, Pepys went to coffeehouses to network for business reasons. He wasn’t content being just a junior clerk in a government department. Like an ambitious young (or not so young) careerist, he decided what he needed to know and he made friends with the merchants who had that knowledge. After a while, Pepys was able to use that knowledge to change his job from menial to meaningful. The friends he made at the coffeehouse helped him move up the power and money ladder.

Fast forward to San Francisco 2007. Employers are banging their heads over the lack of skilled workers. How do you connect with the people you need? Brett Levine of Dovetail Television, a web video company, decided to stand up at his local coffee shop and ask for what he needed: a talented ActionScript programmer (Fost, “Where Neo-Nomads’ Ideas Percolate” SFGate.com, 03/11/07). A few hands rose up. Interviews happened. Levine didn’t find the person he was looking for, but this is guerilla networking. Blunt and honest. Maybe a tad too blunt, but where else can you do this but at a coffee shop?

Q: Tell us about a networking experience you or a friend of yours has had in a coffee shop.

Thanks for dropping by and come again soon for another virtual cup and conversation!