In the last two days, I've had three different conversations with people who were asking me what I do with the people who want to grab coffee when the mutual benefit isn't immediately mutual. Don't get me wrong--these are people who are all extremely generous with their time--and that's probably why more people reach out to them. You have a useful meeting with someone and then they tell someone else it was useful, and so on, and so on...
Unfortunately, you only have so many hours in the day--well, the working day, anyway. You do, however, do other things--things that not everyone might be interested in, but if they *really* wanted to meet with you, they'd do.
I'm talking about volunteering.
A lot of people in the tech and startup community volunteer their time to various non-profits--things that always need more help. It's too easy for someone to ask you for coffee. What if you responded with "happy to connect up, why don't you meet me at this soup kitchen Thursday morning?"
Actually, it would be fantastic for you to give them an address and make it a place that hands out breakfast to the homeless or something.
"Oh, did you think *we* were having breakfast? Oh, no, I meant we'll be giving other people breakfast."
Anyone that doesn't stick around for that isn't the kind of person you'd want to meet up with anyway.
For me, it's volunteering to help give the public a free kayaking experience. I co-founded the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse. Our paddlers are mostly local, diverse, working class or lower income--basically anyone who lives within walking distance of the park that isn't going to be paying to kayak in the Hamptons this summer. It's a group of people whose lives involve a lot of waiting on line for stuff undoubtedly, and who can't pay their way around the process. We provide an empowering but safe experience to a lot of people who may not have ever been on the water or who believed themselves capable of paddling their own kayak around on their own.
I'm there during the summer almost every Saturday. If anyone wants to come down to volunteer with us, they can sign up here, and just tweet at me to see when I'll be there. As long as you realize that we're both there to ensure public safety first, and to help people have a good paddling experience, then I'm happy to talk about venture, startups, NYC, etc.
What's your volunteer thing that you can get those would be coffee buyers at?