"Hey Andrew! Want to grab a cup of coffee next week?"
So often I've seen this message pop up in my inbox, knowing it was code. So often I have personally used a version of this message - quite often replacing coffee with beer - as code. This has become the go-to phrase to disguise "I have something for you" (a job perhaps) or "I want something from you" (an introduction to a potential business contact perhaps).
Now, I'm not sure there's anything wrong with this - so long as there's mutual benefit for both parties. "Networking" became an icky word because so many people are bad at it. I've been approached so many times when "can I pick your brain?" translates to "can you do a bunch of work for me for free?" or "I want to sell you something you don't want or need" or "can you get me special access to ____?" or "can you get me a job at Facebook?"
Somewhere in our rush to sell things, market things, and build or grow businesses we forgot that human interaction can and should be more than purely transactional.
Meetups - even the business kind - shouldn't be all about "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" and they certainly shouldn't be all about "scratch my back, the end".
Sometimes the best interactions begin with simply grabbing a drink and having conversation, with no ulterior motives. It's possible to see people without the blinders of objective or purpose clouding our vision of them.
So, when do we grab a drink?