Asking for a professional coffee meeting is a great networking tool. They can be a platform to begin a mentoring relationship, form a new business deal, share industry tips and tricks, share resources, and more! However many young professionals (and some seasoned ones!) can feel uncomfortable asking for a meeting. This guide will give you all the tools you need to ask a professional for a coffee meeting so that you can be confident in your next ask!
Step 1) Coffee Meeting Purpose
If you’re reading this guide, you’ve likely at least considered asking someone in your network for coffee. Ask yourself, “why do I want to meet with someone for coffee?” Maybe you are looking for a mentor or a new job. Whatever your reason is, write it down. This will be the basis for everything from whom you should ask to how you should ask them.
Step 2) LinkedIn Search (whom to ask?)
This question may be very easy (i.e. the recruiter you connected with at last week’s Conference) or it could be quite open-ended (i.e. I’m looking for a professional mentor). If it is open-ended, review your purpose for wanting to grab a coffee.
If you’re shopping around for a new job, use your network to find someone with your dream job! LinkedIn can be a very useful tool here.
If you’re hoping to find a mentor, dive deeper into what you’d like to be mentored on. Start searching through your network for someone who is an expert in this area. This person could come from LinkedIn, your social network, your existing professional network, your family, etc. The most important part is that they have more knowledge than you do on the subject your interested in.
Step 3) Asking for a Professional Coffee Meeting
Now that you’ve identified whom you want to ask, all that’s left to do is, well, ask! How you ask depends again on your purpose, but also how well you know your invitee. Below are email templates for:
- A known contact
- A warm contact
- A cold contact
Known Contact in your Network
If you have a prior relationship with your contact, even if it’s a single conversation, your ask becomes quite easy. They know who you are and likely know your professional background making it easy to establish a reason for meeting. Simply contact them via the platform you normally use to communicate. Ensure you give a clear indication of why you want to meet with them and highlight any benefits they can get out of the meeting. Make sure to suggest one or two meeting times and give them the option to suggest a new time.
Warm Network Contact
A warm network contact is someone who is in your extended network, but you don’t know them personally. For example, a friend of a friend. Warm introductions can happen two ways: either your mutual connection introduces you, or you can name drop your connection in your message. While both options work, having your connection make the introduction will establish more trust and accountability between you and the professional.
Because you have not met this person before, it is important to do your research on their expertise. Ask your connection, read their LinkedIn profile and any other resources you can find about them online. It can be useful to reference specific expertise to demonstrate why you want to meet with them.
A cold contact is someone who is not currently in your network. You don’t know them and any potential connections are either non-existent or too intangible to be useful.
As with a warm contact, it is important to do your research on their expertise. Read their LinkedIn profile and any other resources you can find about them online. Clearly stating your reason for wanting to meet becomes even more important because you do not have a relationship with this person. It will be easiest to write a clear reason when you are well versed on their experience and expertise.
- Remember that these examples are just that, examples. It is important to capture your own professional voice in your messages.
- Remember when writing your ask to be kind, respectful, and professional.
- Remember that people generally enjoy helping others, especially in a professional/mentorship capacity. So don’t be shy about asking others for a quick meeting!
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