How to stand out on your next coffee chat

Coffee chats are an effective way to meet new people and connect with others within or outside your industry. As a Kinesiology major that wanted to pursue a career in marketing, coffee chats helped me establish connections with mentors and other professionals in the space. You might ask yourself, “Where do I even start”? A valid question that I was also unsure of when I wanted to connect with others.

Coffee chats don’t necessarily have to be a formalized setting, it can be as simple as wanting to catch up with someone you met at an event, or a colleague that transitioned into a new role. In this blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences and what I learned from others on how to set yourself up for success for your next coffee chat. Although this is not an exhaustive list by any means, I hope that you can get some value from these tips and apply them to your next meeting.

1. The setup

There are usually two reasons that you would want to set up a coffee chat with someone. You met someone at an event and had a great conversation with them – hopefully, you got their contact information or you saw their information on LinkedIn or a Careers page and want to learn more about their experiences.

Working professionals are busy, and you are unfortunately probably not the only student that is interested in chatting with them. In the end, they’re taking time out of their day for you, whether that be fifteen minutes or an hour it doesn’t matter. On who you want to chat there isn’t necessarily a blueprint, however, I would recommend reaching out to people with that you truly want to learn and get insight. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who is 10+ years ahead in experience, you’d be surprised who is willing to chat. These are some general tips I was given when I first started setting up coffee chats:

  • Keep your message short and concise
  • Provide some context. They might not remember you just based on your name

    Hey Chris… It was nice meeting you last week at “X” event and I enjoyed learning more about “X” company. 
  • Give a reason why you want to set up the coffee chat. You want to pivot into that industry and want to learn more about the role. You saw a job opening and want to discuss what the role entails. You want to learn more about what they do at their job 
  • Provide a time frame. As mentioned earlier people are busy so giving them an option for times helps make scheduling much easier. I use Calendly for all my coffee chats

    “Are you available on weekday afternoons? We could meet at the coffee shop near your office.”

2. Preparing for the chat

They’ve said yes and you've scheduled a call! You’re over the first step, but there is definitely some more work to be done in preparation for the call. Each situation will be different, but these are some general tips that have helped me ensure that I am going into the call prepared and ready to maximize it.

  • Come to the chat with questions and be intentional with what information you’re trying to learn
  • Learn about their background → Look at their LinkedIn and see what experiences and roles they have had that led them to their current position 
  • Be ready to share more about yourself and why you set up the coffee chat. These conversations should be a two-way street and they will want to learn more about you as well
  • Come with an open mind. These chats provide an opportunity for you to connect with other people in the space and can help provide a fresh perspective. 

3. The chat itself 

You’re ready with your notes and have done your homework and are excited for the chat that is about to come. With the flexibility of virtual or in-person, these next few tips are just going to be a more general sense and could relate more with one version than another. 

  • Arrive early. Nothing worse than coming late to something when someone takes time out of their day to have a chat with you, both either in-person or online 
  • Bring something to take notes with. There is a lot of information that might be said in the span of fifteen to thirty minutes. Be diligent with your notes and let people know that you’re listening to them 
  • Be there to give as much you take. As I mentioned earlier, these chats can go beyond you being the only one who’s listening. Be open to sharing your own experiences or knowledge that you might have
  • Be courteous and respectful of people’s time. If the chat is scheduled for thirty minutes try to be aware of the time and ask how they’re doing on time, sometimes they can stay an extra few minutes. 
  • Feel free to offer help with anything they might have on their plate, as they offered their time.  

4. After the  chat 

Hopefully, you had a great conversation with them and you gained a lot of insight from them and answered your questions. Now what? Making sure you stay connected with them after the chat is arguably one of the most important parts of building a meaningful and long-term connection. 

  • Send a follow-up thank-you email to them. Let them know that you appreciate their time and for sharing all the knowledge they have. 
  • If you went into the coffee chat for a potential position, you can let them know that your resume is available and if they need anything else from you.
  • Continue to interact with them. Sometimes networking can seem transactional, but it doesn’t have to be. Connect with them on LinkedIn and stay updated with what they’re doing professionally. If you ever need to reconnect with them it makes the conversation easier to bring up.

Coffee chats can be a great opportunity for you to open new doors and let people know who you are. Regardless if you’re looking for a new job or just wanting to explore, they can provide a lot of insight and point you in the right direction.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog and I hope that you can get use these tips for your next coffee chat. If you’d like to connect with me and schedule a call for any marketing or career help you can do so here or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Feel free to follow my newsletter if you want to stay updated with what I am doing in the marketing world, and get tips/advice for career pivots as a young professional. 

Stay updated with my newsletter

* indicates required

Recent Articles

The reality of burnout: What do you do?

Coffee with Aaron: Laura Wong - 7+Year Social Media Professional (

3 Lessons I Learned After University