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Why are coffee chats important?
In today's fast-paced world, building connections and gathering career advice is more important than ever. One of the most effective ways to do this? Coffee chats. Whether you're a recent graduate, a seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, a coffee chat can be a game changer for your professional journey.
What is a coffee chat?
A coffee chat is a casual networking opportunity to seek career advice and build relationships. Traditionally these were 15 minutes to 1 hour in-person meetings over coffee. Now, with more employees and teams working remotely, coffee chats often take place virtually over video chat platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts.
The idea is that meeting over coffee creates a more casual and comfortable environment to connect. It's less formal than an interview or formal meeting. You’re able to ask for advice and learn from someone else’s experiences in an informal way. You could call it an informational interview.
Coffee chats can be held with anyone in your network – a colleague, manager, mentor, or contact at another company. It’s a chance to build your connections and grow your network and they can be a powerful tool to use during a job search.
Some key advantages of coffee chats:
Build and strengthen connections through networking
Seek advice from someone with more experience
Gain insight into a role, company, or industry you’re interested in
Discover new opportunities and areas for career growth
Practice communicating and asking good questions
Enhance soft skills like emotional intelligence
With remote work becoming the norm, virtual coffee chats are even more valuable to grow your network and skills when you don’t see colleagues in person as often.
There are various coffee chat apps that can help you schedule and manage your coffee chats.
For example, if you use Slack you can easily install the Coffee Chats Slack App and start scheduling your coffee chats for free.
What do you talk about in coffee chats?
A coffee chat is an informal networking occasion where attendees talk about various things like their job goals, aspiration, industry news, hobbies, current work, and much more.
If you are instrested in some example questions that are often asked, here is a list with 150+ coffee chat questions.
These casual talks let people share stories, learn from each other, and find ways to work together. In the end, these chats help connect people and might lead to more teamwork in the future
How to ask for a coffee chat?
The first step is to identify who you want to meet with and reach out to request a coffee chat. Here are some tips for asking someone for a virtual coffee chat meeting:
Connect over email or LinkedIn message. Briefly explain who you are and why you’d like to meet.
Share what you’re hoping to learn from the chat. Do you want advice on breaking into a certain industry? Looking for leadership tips? Explain your goals.
Suggest a few dates/times that work with your schedule and let them know you’re flexible on timing.
Follow up if you don’t hear back within a week to make sure they got your message.
Use a courteous tone and don’t take it personally if they can’t meet – they may just be busy.
An effective template for a coffee chat request email might look like:Email coffee chat template:
Subject line: Requesting a virtual coffee chat
I hope this email finds you well! I came across your background in [industry] on LinkedIn and would love to take 30 minutes for a coffee chat online.
I’m currently in the early stages of my career in [industry] and am really hoping to learn from your experiences working at [company]. Specifically, I would love any advice you have on developing [relevant skills] and growth opportunities to target in the beginning of my career.
Would you have 30-45 minutes in the next couple weeks for a quick Zoom call? I'm free most Tuesdays and Thursdays before 11am EST. If not no worries at all, I know you must be busy! I appreciate your consideration.
Looking forward to connecting. Thank you,
This shows you’ve done your research on their background, explains your goals for the chat, and gives options for scheduling without being demanding. Following tips like these will help you successfully request more coffee chats.
Questions to ask in a coffee chat
Come prepared with 5-10 questions to ask during your virtual coffee chat. This will ensure the conversation flows smoothly and you make the most of your limited time. Aim for open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses. Here are some examples of good coffee chat topics to discuss:
Can you tell me about your career journey and experience in the industry?
What skills or traits do you think are most important for success in this field? How did you build expertise in those areas?
What does a typical day or week look like for you in your current role?
What are some key opportunities for growth or development that you would recommend I target next in my career?
Are there any particular challenges or pain points you’ve encountered that I should be aware of early on?
Who else would you recommend I connect with to continue learning about this field?
Do you have any other advice for me as I build my career in this industry?
Focus on questions that will help you reach your goals for the chat. If you want leadership advice, ask about skills needed to move up and transition into management roles. If you’re exploring a new career path, ask for details about their experience in that industry.
Take notes during the chat so you can reference any recommendations later. Having thoughtful questions prepared shows you value their time and have an agenda. But also let the conversation flow naturally – your questions are just a starting point.
Tips for Successful Virtual Coffee Chats
Here are some final tips to help you make the most of virtual coffee chats and continue growing your network:
Test your video technology beforehand – nothing derails a chat like tech issues! Make sure your camera, microphone, and wifi connection are working properly.
Find a quiet, distraction-free spot for your video call without background noise.
Come prepared with your questions but also let the conversation happen organically. Don’t make it feel overly formal.
Take notes during or right after your chat so you remember all the advice and connections discussed.
Follow up within a day to thank them for their time and insights. Share any helpful resources that came up for future reference.
Ask if you can stay in touch going forward or connect for another chat down the road. Don’t be shy about following up and strengthening the relationship.
After an insightful coffee chat, think about who else in your network would benefit from connecting with this contact. Facilitate an introduction to pay it forward.
Coffee chats are such a valuable way to grow your skills, network, and career opportunities. Be proactive about requesting informational meetings with professionals in your industry, especially while working remotely. Take advantage of video chat platforms to continue building your connections, even if you can’t meet in person. Approach coffee chats with clear goals and prepared questions. Then maintain these relationships afterwards – you never know what opportunities they may lead to long-term!
Coffee chats are informal networking meetings, increasingly held virtually, to seek advice and build connections.
Reach out by email or LinkedIn message to request a chat, suggest meeting coffee meeting, and explain your goals for the discussion.
Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses and advice.
Follow tips like testing your video platform beforehand and taking notes to optimize your virtual coffee chats.
Maintain the relationship after your chat and look for ways to help others in your network in return.
Coffee chat networking is a great way to continue growing your skills, expertise, and network while working remotely.
Investing time in informational meetings and relationship building can help you open more doors during your career.
If you want to encourage more coffee chats at your company, check out the Coffee Chats Slack App to help you schedule and manage your coffee chats for free.