A coffee meeting is the safe way to network. It allows you to connect with a contact in a non-invasive and neutral space that comes with no expectations. However, because of its casual nature, coffee meetings turn out to be unproductive more times than not. Sean Blanda, editor at Behance, has shared a few helpful tips for making sure your next coffee meeting is a productive one.
It all starts with your initial email -- don't be vague. Introduce yourself, talk about how/why you know the person's work and be specific about your ideal outcome from this meeting. This will help give things a direction. Since you're the one initiating the meeting, offer to pay for their coffee as well. And remember that you don't necessarily have to be drinking coffee, but try to stay away from snacks -- a mouthful can hinder the flow of your conversation.
Whatever it is you are asking from the contact, be specific. Don't just tell them that you are looking for a new job. Tell them exactly what kind of job you are looking for. Blanda suggests -- “I’m looking for an entry-level position as a junior designer at a small advertising firm like firm x, firm y, or firm z. Do you know anyone at those places?”
This one may seem awkward, but it can certainly save your meeting -- take notes. Have a pen and pad of paper available on the table during your meeting. If you promise to send your contact a file or link, make sure to write it down so you don't forget. Wait a day or two before you follow-up. Like dating, you don't want to seem too aggressive. In the email, add the items you promised and follow up with what was discussed to ensure the conversation continues.
How do you make sure your coffee meeting is productive?