What comes after hello?

We live in a digital world, but face to face conversation hasn’t lost its importance. In fact, online networking has perhaps made in-person networking even more powerful in terms of driving a unique connection.

A coffee chat is a low risk way to meet new people and swap advice. The coffee meeting is sort of like the Swiss Army knife of networking. A meeting with the right person can open doors you never thought possible. That’s why it’s important to maximize every coffee chat opportunity. Because we know not everyone feels quite like a natural, let us help you prepare for what comes after “hello.”

Before you reach out, do your research.  A scan of a person’s Ten Thousand Coffees profile, LinkedIn page or google search will provide you with just enough background to find a connection point. By being a part of Western’s exclusive hub, you will automatically receive personalized introductions to your inbox making it so much easier to initiate a coffee chat.

Be prepared to exchange stories of no more than one to two minutes that summarizes who you are. Think about 2-3 key messages that you want the other person to remember about you and work those points into your summary by beginning with where you started, how you moved on from there and what you are focusing on next. Your starting and ending points may differ depending on if you have quite a bit of professional experience or if you’re a new grad.

Ask deep questions. Armed with knowledge from your fact finding mission, you’re ready to probe. Forget about typical questions like “What kind of work do you do?” Thanks to your research you can drop something like this: “I saw your company just finished a big marketing campaign, what was the most interesting part of that project for you?” Or, “I saw that you graduated with a degree in Media, Information and Techoculture, tell me about that.”

Focus on developing a relationship, by being a good listener and simply spending your time getting to know someone.

Pointers for a successful coffee meeting:

  • Coffee meetings are usually 30 minutes or less
  • Be on time
  • You don’t have to drink coffee
  • Offer to add value when possible, you get when you give
  • End on time
  • Go beyond what you can google

More next-level questions to ask

  • How has your work changed most since you started?
  • What’s the best lesson you’ve learned on the job?
  • If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait what would it be?
  • What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were in my position?
  • What’s the most important 10 minutes of research you do each day to stay on top of things?

Keep in mind; these are just a few suggestions of questions you can ask. Adapt them to fit your contact, situation, setting and level of experience.

Looking for more ways to connect? We’ve got you covered, join Western’s exclusive hub on Ten Thousand Coffees