You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now What?!?!

You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now 

You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now

coffee chat

Many of us aren’t natural networkers….or at least we feel like we aren’t. We know networking and connecting are important for our career advancement or career change, but really, we just don’t wanna do it. At all. Like we’d rather send 200 job applications into the ether, never to be heard from again, rather than going on 5 coffee chats or info interviews. You may be familiar with what I’m putting down here. The “oh crap, well now I’ve gone and done it! I’ve got the coffee chat set up and it’s PURE DREAD to figure out what to talk about!!!”

 

First, take some deep breaths and remember the following:

 

  • No one is going to die or spontaneously combust by going to a coffee chat.
  • The person SAID YES to you, meaning, they want to meet with you too. #twowaystreet
  • It really is a win-win, no matter how the meeting goes. If you have a good connection and gel, then that’s great for obvious reasons: building a long-term relationship, potential mentorship, and idea exchange, they think of you when they hear of a job- the list goes on and on. If you don’t gel, as sometimes happens, then that’s great too. You don’t have to spend time on the relationship and neither do they. You can instead focus on relationships that are mutually beneficial.
  • You may feel selfish and that you’re take-take-taking, but in reality, it’s a two-way street. Sure, maybe your aim for the meeting now is for job prospects, but you’ll more than happily return the favor or offer help in some way when they need it, right? (And if the answer is no, then we have a whole other blog post for that!)
  • It’s worth repeating: no one ever spontaneously combusted or melted into a pile of mush from a coffee chat. I guarantee it.

This morning, a client admitted that she gets into “Why Bother?” mode, meaning if someone responds favorably to her request for a meeting, she drags her feet at responding to finalize, asking herself what the point of it all is (in other words, ‘this won’t lead to anything!”)

 

If you’re nodding your head vigorously at that, remember the following:

 

  • You never know where a connection might lead. Maybe their colleague mentions a job and your connection thinks of you, or maybe they see a job posting and pass it along to you.
  • If you get into the “why bother?” mentality, actually answer the damn question. Yes, write down all the reasons why you should actually bother. For my client, she said it was because the woman was well connected, wanted to help, was a prolific public speaker which is one of my client’s goals, etc. Actually write it down so you don’t talk yourself out of something due to nebulous “Why bother?” questions.
  • No one has ever died by going on a coffee chat.

 

Ok, so now that we’ve got all that covered and you’re READY to rock and ride, what the heck do you actually TALK about in these meetings?!?

 

  • Coffee meetings are great because they’re generally 30-40 minutes, give or take. So it’s not hours upon hours of dreadful time to fill!
  • You don’t need to script every minute. As a matter of fact, I don’t advise that. I’ve never seen a coffee chat/info chat start right off the bat with business. People typically like to ease into these things, so you can ask them something non-work related. Ideas:
    • What’s this neighborhood like to work in? Any restaurants or bars nearby you’d recommend? (And from there, you could talk about food and cuisines and culture for a bit- sky’s the limit!)
    • If you know something personal about them (ie. Have kids, got married, went on a trip, started a networking group, gave a speech), ask them about it.
    • If something in the news is interesting to you and timely, bring it up! (Read: not politics, generally speaking)
  • Know your outcome: Do you admire their career path thus far and want to gain insights into how they did it? Ask. Do you want to let the person know you’re open to new opportunities? Tell them! This is where it’s important to have your narrative down- help them understand why you’re looking for a change and how you want to grow and why that’s important to you.
  • Listen more than you talk. There’s a misconception out there that you, as the coffee chat setter-upper, need to talk the entire time and carry the conversation. You don’t! I always try to invoke the “listen more than you speak” mantra and think it’s important for coffee chats especially. Relationships are built when you let the other person feel heard. This should take a little of the pressure to talk talk talk off your plate!

 

Most importantly, going on this coffee chat is important because as you do them, they become less onerous and scary and just another thing you do. Rip that band-aid off and get a-movin!

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