How to Have a Cup of Coffee

CFMcGill Connect (the Ten Thousand Coffees networking platform) is taking off and people are seeing great results. It makes it easy to break the ice and ask professionals out for a meet…because in being on the platform, they’ve agreed to be open to meeting. It’s engaging, interactive, easy to use and incredibly resourceful. There’s even a tinder-esque feature that can randomly show you profiles based on your interests.

I love it. It’s tech-savvy and progressive and so easy to use. Although, it can be nerve racking. Especially for those of us just starting out. I know a lot of people that think talking on the phone is weird, let alone contacting a stranger to sit down for life chats about their ambitions.

Sean Blanda writes for 99u, “10 Tips for an Awesome Coffee Meet“, and I do mean awesome. Here are my favorites with some of my own experience:

  • Offer to pay – I’ve always stood by the fact that whoever propositions can pick up the bill, as you are requesting another person’s company. It’s only polite so please, even though we may be financially downtrodden students, cover their drink for their time.
  • Drink the coffee or don’t – Sean says, “Meetings over beer are for open-ended discussion. Meetings over coffee are for getting things done”. Grab something to be polite but don’t worry about the specifics of the venue. Just try not to catch yourself in a situation where your mouth is full of croissant and the professional you’ve ask to meet with needs to wait for your hunger to abide…
  • Don’t be afraid to hit the nail on the head – There is something to be said for eloquence and subtly but you’re both there to learn more from each other and try to be of benefit to the other professionally. Sean reassures that you shouldn’t be afraid to “have a hard ask”.

Example from his article being:

Bad: “I need help finding a job”

Good: “I’m looking for an entry-level position as a junior designer at a small advertising firm like firm x, firm y, or firm z. Do you know anyone at those places?”

  • Follow-up and don’t miss a thing– I really enjoy Sean’s take on this, as he outlines the best way to balance the give and take of a networking coffee.

The moment you arrive back at your computer, make a note to follow up in a day or two. Doing it immediately can be a tad aggressive, but don’t let yourself forget. In the follow up, make good on anything you promised to send, as well as providing a gentle nudge on anything they offered. An example:

“Hey Josh, it was great to meet you, thanks for being so generous with your time. To follow up on some of the things I mentioned:

This is the video of my favorite 99U talk

That restaurant I like by your house is called Stoops, here’s the Yelp link.

Here is a link to that blog post I wrote that I told you about.

Also, you mentioned you had a contact at firm x? I’d love to speak with her, let me know if I can provide you with anything to make this easier.

Thanks again,

–Sean”

  • Offer to end on time – If you’re chatting and it’s going well that’s great! But, just to be safe, make note of the time and ask them if they have to go or if they have other work engagements. If not, that’s amazing for you but if so it looks very considerate.
  • The follow-up follow-up…. – If you want to connect with this person and keep a relationship going you’ve got to be mindful about it. In 2-3 weeks after the initial follow up try following up on any outcomes from your coffee meet. Another example from Sean:

“Hey Josh, just a simple note to say that I met with Mary as you suggested, and we’re now discussing a possible freelance gig. Thanks again and let me know I can ever return the favor!”

The article has a few others that deserve a read but overall this was my favorite roundup. I’m really enjoying the way this social professional platform is encouraging active face-to-face meets. It’s an amazing network for students and provides opportunity where you might not have imagined it before.

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