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The Other Office

Entrepreneur Magazine's editor-in-chief on outside-the-office meeting places.

Amy C. CosperMy friend Davis never closes business on the company grounds. Davis is the CEO of a tech company he launched about six years ago, and he has this thing about meeting clients in conference rooms or offices--places he calls "unnatural habitats." He believes trust is the cornerstone to all successful business relationships, and those habitats don't engender trust.

"Boardrooms make people uncomfortable, unnatural and stagey--like caged animals," he says. "That's Trump's way--part of his strategy. A true entrepreneur is more likely to close business in a coffee shop or a bar. It's the first step to building trust and a long-lasting business relationship. It's more authentic."

Davis' favorite place to do business is a coffee shop in downtown Denver called Common Grounds. It's centrally located and has a comfortable vibe. It's neither too loud nor too quiet. The interior has just the right amount of urban hipness without being obnoxious. Business people sit table-to-table with local artists.

Davis knows all the baristas and the best time of day to close a business deal. ("Generally before 2 p.m.") He has even staked out a wooden table and two chairs as his own "business area." Davis can be found here at least three times a week, and claims to have closed more new business at Common Grounds than in any boardroom.

He has an office, but rarely uses it. "I feel more energized and connected when I do business at a place that isn't an office," Davis says. "My company depends on my ability to build relationships. Can't do that sitting on your ass all day." He told me all this one day over coffee at--you guessed it--Common Grounds. (For a look at all things caffeinated, see Innovators.)

Daytime deals may shake out in coffee shops, but at night, business gets done in bars. After 5 p.m. most weekdays, Davis moves his operations to a place called Caveau Wine Bar. Because, as Davis puts it, at a certain point in the day something stronger is in order: "After about 5 p.m., caffeine is no longer relevant."

There is a certain art to doing business in coffee shops and bars. There are things--sometimes a series of things--that must happen to get the deal done, raise the second round or find the right partner. There are rules.

Those are covered in our Best Business Bars report. We show you how to prepare for the art of the deal done in a bar, and the places around the country where business gets done. No matter where you do business, the advice conveyed will help you be a better negotiator, a more presentable human and a more gracious conversationalist.

Now, bottoms up.

Amy C. Cosper
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy

Amy Cosper is vice president of Entrepreneur Media Inc., and editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the July 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Other Office.

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