Sometimes it’s important for company professionals to network with each other. One way to do this is through a coffee chat. Coffee chats are informal conversations or meetings that you have with a company employee to learn more about the company, its culture, internship, or job opportunities. Coffee chats are beneficial to people looking to improve their professional network. This article will discuss coffee chats, the benefits of having them, and how to have impactful conversations. Let’s begin.
What is a Coffee Chat?
A coffee chat refers to an informal conversation or meeting between professionals to create new connections or reestablish previous ones. The main purpose of such a meeting is to find out more about a company you are interested in and to help you establish a network with it. A coffee chat entails you and another professional meeting to have coffee (not necessarily coffee – could be lunch, tea, or beer depending on your relationship with that person) and discussing the company, and that individual’s career path/role. The informal meeting can also help you learn more about internships or job opportunities.
Benefits of a Coffee Chat
Here are some benefits of a coffee chat:
- Strengthening your current connections
A coffee chat helps strengthen your current connections since it allows you to have a different type of discussion with your colleagues or coworkers than you would have had in an office.
- Reestablishing old connections
A coffee chat can help you reestablish old connections. Old connections can be people you worked with that you no longer see regularly and that you had a personal or professional relationship. Through coffee chats, you get to learn what the person is doing now or what they did after they stopped working with you.
- Helps make new connections
Coffee chats can also help you make some new connections. All you have to do is to identify the individual or company you want to learn about then politely approach them and explain why you want a coffee chat with them.
- Helps learn about some new opportunities
During coffee chats, you get to learn about new opportunities. For example, when looking to change your career, you can talk to a professional in your field of interest and learn more about the job. This way, you can weigh your options on what’s best for you.
Preparation for a Coffee Chat
The main key to the success of a coffee chat is proper preparation. To prepare for a coffee chat, research the company or the person you’re meeting. You can do this through the company website, and by visiting the individual LinkedIn profile to research their career path. Additionally, take notes of questions to ask them to show that you’ve done some research. What’s more, carry a notebook and pen to jot down some notes during the meeting. Also, ensure that your elevator pitch is ready so that you can confidently answer the questions asked about yourself. Lastly, if your agreed meeting is at a coffee shop, politely offer to buy your guest the drink of their choice. Furthermore, you can reach them before the meeting and specify that you would want to treat your guest to coffee.
Here are some questions that you can ask during the coffee chat to keep the conversation going.
Questions That You Can Ask During a Coffee Chat
- How did you get started with your career?
- Which is the most exciting part of your job?
- Which is the biggest challenge in your career?
- What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to join your career line?
- What’s your next goal in your career?
- Which networking events can you recommend?
- What advice do you have for someone like me who’s at this stage in their career?
Tips for Having a Coffee Chat
- Take the initiative
Master the courage to pursue what you want. If you find a professional or individual you want to have a coffee chat with, take the initiative to invite them. You’ll be surprised to know that most people are happy to get coffee.
- Prepare before the coffee chat
Once the professional has accepted your offer, prepare for the meeting beforehand. Apply the preparation tips that we’ve discussed above.
- Arrive early
You must arrive early for your coffee chat. Arriving early helps you familiarize yourself with the environment. Additionally, arriving early helps you secure a table since most coffee shops are busy and full. Lastly, arriving early is more professional since you’re the person who set up the meeting.
- Go Virtual
In instances whereby the person lives far, you can connect with them virtually. Virtual coffee chats can be done through video conferencing software. The advantage of virtual coffee chats is that you get to prepare a list of questions that you ask virtually without the person seeing it.
- Follow up
After your meeting is done, follow up with the individual especially if you’re looking to meet again in the future. You can follow up through messages or an email depending on your relationship with this person. Additionally, ensure that you send a thank you note for the individual to feel appreciated. In instances where the person said they would connect you with another individual, ensure you follow up to remind them.