Coffee meetings are a fantastic way to advance your career – and get caffeinated!
You can have LinkedIn connections a mile – or a kilometer – long, but sometimes there is nothing more effective when you’re trying to build your network than face-to-face interaction. (Kind of like learning English! Face-to-face interaction, even through the internet, can boost your fluency tremendously!)
This is why you need to know what to say at a networking coffee in English!
In this episode, we’ll discuss how you can use coffee meetings to advance your career and of course – what to say at a coffee meeting.
So grab a hot beverage and get ready to learn the art of the coffee meeting.
The only thing Apple Founder Steve Jobs’ had more of than turtleneck sweaters was his many professional relationships.
Steve Jobs is considered a genius in relationship building. He believed that the most productive teams were the ones that included people from different specialities. He found creative ways people from different departments would interact.
He even applied this philosophy to architecture. He carefully chose the bathroom locations at his company so people from different departments would interact. The idea was that new connections and collaborative teams would form.
Even if you have a small network… and even if you don’t have a bathroom where all the interesting people meet – you can still expand your network.
One simple way is by sending a cold email to invite someone for coffee. A coffee meeting isn’t a job interview. It’s not a pitch meeting either.
A coffee meeting is an opportunity to meet with a professional contact face-to-face. This personal connection can strengthen the bond you already have online.
How can a coffee meeting advance your career?
A coffee meeting can help you learn about an industry you’re interested in getting into.
If you’re early in your career path, you might learn how an industry leader got to where they are. This knowledge can help you plan out your career strategy.
Or you might learn more about the workflow are challenges at a colleague’s company. This insight might help you improve the workflow in your own company.
And of course, a face-to-face meeting may give you the edge if a job opening becomes available in the future. Getting hired shouldn’t be your main focus, however.
What to Say
Although a coffee meeting is casual, it’s a good idea to do research and prepare.
What is the agenda for the meeting? In other words, what is the goal? If the goal is to ultimately get a job, try to put that in the back of your mind. That is too much pressure for a coffee meeting.
Instead, think about feasible goals – that is, goals that are easily achievable. One of the easy ways to have something to say during the coffee meeting is to have a list of questions prepared.
If you requested the meeting because you’re interested in how your invitee got started in their career and how you might learn from their path, you can ask them questions that focus on how they got their start. For example: “I was thinking of getting into the same field as you. How did you get started in your career?”
This is a simple, open-ended question that your invitee will have no problem answering.
After asking this question, listen to their response carefully. You are looking for areas where you have things in common.
This can be a city you both lived in, a school you both attended, or perhaps an interest outside your industry that you both share. Connecting in this way builds rapport and a stronger professional connection.
Ask Follow-up Questions
While you’re still learning about your invitee’s origin story, you can ask follow-up questions that involve how they got their start. For example:
Where did you go to school?
What did you study?
What was your first job after graduation?
What is your story?
Keep in mind that after they share their story, they will likely ask YOU the same question.
Be prepared to answer questions about your education or course of study. This is an opportunity to impress them, and demonstrate how well you know the industry and your passion for this career path.
Asking about their day-to-day job responsibilities is a great question. This will give you a good idea of the kinds of tasks you might be expected to do further on in this career.
This knowledge can help you prepare and advance your career further.
You could say: “What are your day-to-day job responsibilities?” Or… “What does a typical day at work look like for you?”
Asking your invitee for suggestions on networking events or meetups is a great way to learn more about the career or industry you’re interested in.
For example, you can say: “Can you recommend any networking events or meetups that you find valuable?”
This question is great because you get to discover new resources and communities in your industry. Plus, you have an excuse to follow up with an email down the road after you’ve attended an event. You can mention how valuable the event was and why.
Leave your expectations at the door. I’ll demonstrate.
While it’s fun to imagine that this coffee date will lead to an amazing new job – that can put a lot of pressure on the meeting.
Instead, try to go to the meeting without any expectations. Be interested in the other person and excited to learn more about them and their experience. Your interest and curiosity will shine through, and that will make you even more memorable.
And don’t forget – the conversation doesn’t have to be all business. If it feels appropriate, you can bring up other topics, such as sports or travel, even describing your vacation, and see if something resonates.
Who knows, you might hit on a subject or hobby that you both have in common – which may in turn create even more opportunities to bond, whether that be over soccer or a favorite movie or television show.
Have you had a coffee meeting? How did it go?
Did you find it helped advance your career? Do you have any tips on what to say during the meeting? Share them in the comments!
And if you want to practice SPEAKING English? Then consider my Faster Fluency Conversation Club.
Club members can participate in 3 group sessions per week. You will be paired up in small groups with other motivated students and get some help from a Fluency Club Leader too.
The small-group size ensures you get plenty of practice to speak English and receive feedback on mistakes or suggest ways you can speak more colloquially, so you gain fluency faster.
You can get all the details and join the Fluency Club on this page.
You’ll also get extra resources and a conversation guidebook, to help you increase your vocabulary and become more confident in conversations.
Thank you for learning with Speak English with Christina, and I’ll see you next time!
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