This is an excellent and oh-so-common challenge that landed in my inbox the other day. Whether it’s people considering starting their own business, an existing industry colleague wanting to connect, or someone just wanting to “pick your brain,” it can be frustrating and exhausting trying to find the words to continually say “No” to all of the catch-up requests without feeling like you’re being rude.
As one client put it to me, “If I said yes to all of these extra coffee requests it would be a fulltime (unpaid!) job!”.
And if you’re anything like me… if you had time for a coffee date, you’d probably like to spend it with a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with for MONTHS! Right?! Ha!
Show kindness and thank them for reaching out / connecting.
Politely let them know your schedule is currently at capacity serving your existing clients and new inquiries.
Provide them details about your hourly rate for one-on-one consulting services, if this could be something that benefits them, and let them know the week of the next available date you are currently booking. (Ideally this should be at least one month out from the time of your reply.)
Thank them again for their interest in your business and wish them well.
To save you time, below I’ve drafted two email templates you could try personalising in response to the next coffee-date request you receive.
Thanks for reaching out and connecting.
[Insert personal line referencing them / their business here eg.] I’m excited to hear you’re wanting to take your business full time. I’ve personally found the growth of my own business to be challenging yet endlessly fulfilling over the past X years, and I love hearing about others pursuing this same path!
At the moment my schedule is at capacity serving my existing clients and new inquiries, so unfortunately I don’t have any upcoming availability for a coffee date.
If, however, you’re looking for support and advice in growing your business you might find my one-on-one consulting services helpful. (I’ve attached an information sheet for your reference, in case useful.) My next availability for these personal business sessions is the week of [insert date at least 4-weeks ahead].
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate.
Wishing you all the best in business! I’m excited to watch your growth.
So great to hear from you!
[Insert personal line referencing their email or something current from their business that caught your attention, you admired/respected/were inspired by.]
At the moment my schedule is at capacity and I unfortunately don’t have any upcoming availability for a coffee date, however I’m really interested in hearing more about X, if this is something you’re able to share with me via email?
Similarly, if there’s any aspect of my services that you were wanting more detail on, I’d be more than happy to share those with you so please don’t hesitate to ask!
Thanks for your understanding and for reaching out! (If relevant) Maybe we can catch up in the (enter appropriate season/month) when I tend to have more open availability?
If you foresee yourself being the RECIPIENT of one of these emails, visit this blog post where I talk about how you can approach these connection requests respectfully and in a way that is more likely to lead to a “YES!”