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How to use coffee meetings and network meetings
Perhaps you have already heard about them. Many people talk about coffee meetings and network meetings as part of their job hunt. But what exactly are they? Who should you invite? How do you set up a meeting? We have gathered some of our best advice for you in this article.
The purpose of a coffee meeting
Let us make it clear from the beginning. A coffe meeting is not about your contact having a job ready for you, so you should not be aiming for that. Instead of a job being the goal, it is more important for you to go aften information, inspiration and perhaps new contacts who can bring you forward in you job search and extend your search. A coffee meeting is basically about you creating new opportunities for yourself and learning more through conversations with others.
You could be aiming:
It is important that you clarify the purpose of the meeting for your contact. The more specific you are with regard to your expectations, motive and purpose, the bette your contact will be able to help you.
Who should you invite?
The people you invite are not necessarily people that you already know well. The most important thing is that you have a common point of departure. This could be that you both know the same person, you have the same degree, or you shared the same existence – for example a professional event. You need to bring into play what you have in common in order to land a coffee meeting.
Asking “strangers” for help can be difficult. You may feel that you are being pushy and that you do not want to waste your contact’s time. But you need to keep in mind that many people have been in the exact same situation as you. Perhaps it was not so long ago that they too were transitioning fro student to graduate. In other words, they will recognise themselves in your situation.
You may also think that the situation is one-sided, because you need the contact more than he/she needs you. But who doesn’t want to be known as someone who helps others? For many people, this alone will be reason enough to meet you. Many people will consider it a compliment that you ask them for advice.
1. Before the coffee meeting – make sure you are prepared
When you have found a relevant contact person, it is important that you research him/her and familiarise yourself with the relevant company. Furthermore, it is important that you prepare a brief presentation of yourself and of the purpose of the meeting. The next step is to pick up the phone and call. This where you need to be crystal clear about how yyou have found the contact and what you would like to talk about. Be sharp on the framework and your expectations for the meeting: “I’m calling you, because I’d like to learn more about the sector you work in. I got your number from…”. Ask whether your contact person has half an hour for a cup of coffee. You could suggest a place close to the contact’s office. After the phone call, it would be a good idea to confirm arrangements and expectations in an email.
2. During the cooffee meeting – listen and ask questions
Start the conversation by thanking your contact for making time to meet with you. Give a brief presentation of yourself, and repeat what you would like to know more about. This is where your thorough preparation should come into play to clarify your questions: What are the challenges in your sector? Any solutions? Why did you choose this path? How do you use what you learnt during your studies in your work?
Remember always to keep focus on the purpose of your meeting – ask specific questions, and ask for elaboration. Think about the meeting as an interview, where you are the journalist. Keep track of time and keep it short and concise. You could end the meeting by asking whether the contact knows other people in his/her network who could be relevant to meet, or whether there is something you could do to thank your contact for meeting with you.
3. After the coffee meeting
Send a follow-up email, in which you thank your contact for the meeting and for spending time with you. Also enclose your CV to make it easy for your contact to forward the CV to other potential contacts. Moreover, link up with the contact on LinkedIn, so that you become part of each other’s network. Remember to note down your new knowledge, so that you can use it in the future. What went well? What did not go so well? What will you do differently next time?
Finally, do not be afraid to venture into coffee meeting, even though they may be a long way out of your comfort zone at first. Good luck with your next coffee meeting.