How to Brew up your next SUCCESSFUL (Virtual) Coffee Chat!
We know - reaching out and talking to industry professionals is no easy feat. So in preparation for any virtual coffee chats you may have scheduled during this quarantine, here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your virtual chat 😊.
It is important to remember that networking is all about forming a relationship - you could also think of it as making new friends! You should never open a coffee chat with the intent of getting a job or a benefit – focus on learning and absorbing everything you can from their experiences and building a good rapport! Going into coffee chats with this mindset will enable you to build more authentic connections and learn more deeply about the fields these professionals are working in. Once you have this foundation down, these next steps will be crucial in successfully preparing for your chat:
1. Dress for Success: Even if the coffee chat is virtual, it's important to leave a good impression. Showing up in pajamas is a no-go; make sure to dress in professional clothing (at least from the waist up!) in order to demonstrate your respect for the person you're speaking to.
2. Be on time: Despite the fact that the meeting will be online, it’s always a good habit to be ready at least 5 minutes before the start of the call or be ready in the waiting room by then (contrary to the saying, being late is NOT a hot look!). Showing up late shows a lack of respect for the professional's time and does not leave the best first impression!
3. Be prepared: Do some research on the professional you are going to speak to - making a list of questions you want to ask them beforehand (make sure it’s not too scripted) will also help keep the conversation focused in order to maximize the time you are given. Questions can be formal or personal (though, not TOO personal) in order to get to know the professional on a deeper level. To gain a better understanding of their experiences, you can also ask questions about their career journey or story!
4. Be polite: Keep in mind that the professional is choosing to give up their time to be able to be present to answer your questions. Be thankful, polite, and respectful throughout the conversation.
5. Be genuine: When you are relaxed and are your authentic self, conversations will flow more naturally. Try to create a more relaxed atmosphere over a rigid one. Consider starting by asking them about their day – in turn, you can also tell them something interesting about your day or how you’re currently feeling – which can help break the ice, and try finding some common ground to build a personal connection right away.
6. Know when to end it: Professionals are busy people, so it's important to ask if they are okay to continue the conversation after the 10-15 minute mark in order to respect their time and avoid dragging the conversation out longer than it needs to be.
7. Follow up: Remember to follow up after a virtual coffee chat, even if just to thank them for their time. A follow up email tells them that you are thankful for their time and could lead to remaining connected with them well into the future!
If you are on the lookout for some professionals to chat with, check out eProjects' virtual coffee chat program from June 1st on and sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop for more virtual events!