Master the Coffee Chat and Brew Better Connections

Cassy Aite
April 3, 2024
How To Master the Coffee Chat and Connect With Others

The old, cliched adage has been said millions of times to everyone in the business world: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” No one’s quite sure if that’s true or not, but it’s an immeasurable aspect of the working world.

One thing is certainly true. No matter how competent or likable you are, one major roadblock that people often encounter is networking. They aren’t sure how to build a network, where to start, or how to take initiative.

On a positive note, the digital world has made networking events and opportunities more accessible than ever, but how you approach them is vital to your future success.

That’s where the coffee chat comes into play.

You probably wouldn’t think your morning routine of caffeine ingestion would lead to professional advancement. Still, when used properly, the coffee chat effectively boosts your network and potential career development.

So fire up the cappuccino machine, add your favorite flavors, and learn how to brew the art of connection, conversation, and networking with a coffee chat.

What Is Coffee Chat?

A coffee chat is an informal virtual or in-person business meeting between two people, typically at a coffee shop or via video-conferencing platforms like Zoom. It is often used to meet others in a particular industry to discuss personal and professional goals and career paths, expand professional networks, discover potential partnerships, gain valuable insight, bolster confidence, and promote future collaboration or mentorship opportunities. Think of it as an informational interview where you gather valuable information and new opportunities without the shackles of traditional business gatherings.

Unlike large networking events, the main draw of a coffee chat is that you can talk to an individual one-on-one. This can help you form meaningful connections without distractions or the foreboding thought that too long of a chat can hinder your chance to network with others. Its casual nature can also rid your mind of extraneous thoughts and allow you to be yourself.

What a Coffee Chat Isn’t

Now that you know what a coffee chat is, here’s a subtle reminder of what this meetup isn’t. A coffee chat should never be a:

  • Bragging session
  • One-way conversation
  • Asking or inquiring relentlessly about a new job
  • Focusing solely on your own job search
  • Close-minded approach to networking

Be yourself, but remain open and focused on the reasons you’re there. Make a vested effort to make a good impression, ask thoughtful questions, and absorb information to get the most out of this informal meeting.

Why Coffee Chats Are Important

Two people at a table drinking coffee

Coffee chats are an established way to enhance your network and create friendships and partnerships that can last a lifetime. These informal conversations also play other roles in your professional and, to some degree, personal life. You only need to look at the other benefits to understand the importance.

Potential for Professional and Personal Growth

Few business-related events afford the opportunity for both professional and personal growth. In most instances, you’ll get one or the other.

When you become a coffee chat veteran, you learn methods for personal growth. You learn from other people’s perspectives and apply them to your worldview. Confidence, conversational skills, and fresh ideas often follow.

Professionally, a coffee chat can provide insight into your specific industry from those who know it best — whether a coworker who’s worked for the company longer than you or a leader in the industry itself.

A beneficial coffee chat also showcases your knowledge to others—including your creativity and outlook—which can become a catalyst for new opportunities or job options. You can also establish yourself as a visionary and set yourself up for success by becoming a thought leader/expert or meeting the right people to help you realize your dreams and aspirations.

Learning More

Everything you learn can only help you on the path to achievement. Little tidbits, industry-specific information, tips on how to advance, and the tricks of the trade are all part of the coffee chat equation. Think of it as a lunch and learn — just with coffee and with only you and another involved.

New Opportunities

Though a coffee chat isn’t a job interview, it’s definitely a time to discover new opportunities. These don’t necessarily have to be job openings. Instead, you can see how you personally and professionally gel with another person. Someone who you bond with on both levels can set up your next important meeting, provide mentoring, or point you in the right direction for the next step in your career.

Forge New Connections and Rekindle Old Ones

Unless you’re asleep, you spend most of your time relaxing, bettering yourself, spending time with family, or working. Due to these time commitments, your connections can easily fall through the cracks. Coffee chats allow you to reconnect with coworkers, managers, and professionals you may not see as often.

If you’re new to an industry or starting a new career path, coffee chats are the optimal way to create connections and see how your skills transfer. Forging new connections can ease your mind while determining what skills you need to work on — all while meeting the people who can put you on the path to success

6 Proven Ways To Master the Coffee Chat

Two women meeting up for a coffee chat

Developing a coffee chat framework or template is every bit as important as the coffee chat itself. To master it, you need to have a basic idea of the structure, what you’re going to say, and how to respond to others. If you follow these concepts and networking tips, you should have an engaging and beneficial coffee chat.

1. Reach Out

For most people, reaching out is the hardest part of the coffee chat. Imposter complex plays a detrimental role in most people’s heads with self-doubt or a lack of confidence detracting from the first step of a coffee chat. Don’t let it.

Reach out to people in your industry that can provide insight, have valuable experience, or can give you the tools or advice you need to succeed. At the very least, if you never ask, you’ll never know if the person’s willing to meet with you.

2. Prepare

Once the other party confirms the coffee chat, use your time between now and then to prep. Look at their LinkedIn profile or social media for any interesting discussion opportunities and research their past work experience. Use this information to jot down some bullet points and potential questions you can ask based on this information.

3. Have an Icebreaker

Jumping straight into the conversation can come off as impersonal, and while the coffee chat is informal, you still want to give the right impression. Just a simple comment or question about the weather, where they’re based, or what they’ve been up to outside of work is effective.

You can also use this time to set a context for the coffee chat. Introduce yourself, state your interests or professional experience, and explain why you’ve wanted to talk to them. This sets the tone for the conversation and where it should lead.

4. Ask the Right Questions

Asking the right questions is the most integral part of a coffee chat. You only have about 30 minutes to talk to this person, and the questions you ask dictate the value. Without preparation or the right questions, the other party could feel like their time is being wasted.

Asking the right questions varies depending on your intent and who you’re meeting. To that degree, you should add context to your questions. Start by explaining a scenario based on your past experiences and use that to vault into your question. This will avoid an interview-type feel and keep the conversation light while getting the most out of it.

5. Offer Thanks

Like a cover letter, meeting, or interview, thanking people for their time is always appreciated. You don’t have to go overboard; a simple thank you for their time, and a general appreciation will go a long way.

6. Follow up

The follow-up is almost as important as the coffee chat. Plus, you can use this opportunity to schedule another coffee chat to ask follow-up questions. An additional thank you, more in-depth questions, or reminders about comments or contacts will open more doors. Be prompt and straightforward, and you should find yourself in more coffee chats in the coming weeks or months.

How Virtual Coffee Chats Differ

Virtual Coffee Chat

In the grand scheme of things, virtual coffee chats aren’t all that different from in-person ones. They allow you to connect informally with other people in your industry, relax, and get away from work, even if only for a half-hour.

The only major difference is the connection medium, which can take some planning. Scheduling a virtual coffee chat and choosing the ideal platform are the most complicated parts. But once you and the other party decide on the time and platform, the rest of the chat should stay the same. Stay on course, practice active listening, and make a good impression, and the virtual aspect of the coffee chat shouldn’t pose a problem.

Get Ready for Future Coffee Chats

Like with most things in life, the more practice you have in a certain task, the better you’ll get over time. Your art of small talk and conversation will grow, but only if you put extra time into it.

You should also have a few extra tricks to streamline your coffee chat prowess. One of those is being able to send a small token of gratitude to others for meeting with you — and there’s probably no better option than a gift card for future coffee purchases.

Whether you’re helping your staff network with business prospects or starting a business of your own, a coffee-friendly gift card is a business-savvy move. No one makes this process easier than Hoppier.

Starbucks Hoppier virtual gift card

With the ability to send e-gift cards to clients, networking partners, or employees across 60 countries, Hoppier ensures they have a cup of coffee in hand for their most important business meetings.

Networking is about tact, personality, and connection, but a cup of joe on you will never hurt your chances.

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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