The 411 on coffee chats

By Zoe Woods

Business Analyst, Human Capital Consulting | Summer 2014 Co-op

“I want to work at Firm X because of the opportunity to learn from the amazing people around me.” There is a good chance during your interview process you stated this and now that you landed the job it’s time to make good on that statement – but how? The best way to do that is with coffee chats.

Coffee chats are the best way to meet and connect with people around the office, especially when you’re new to the firm. In summary, they are half hour chats over coffee (or tea) where you get to know your colleagues. Word to the wise, be mindful of who you invite; it is best to invite only those you have genuine interest in getting to know, or conversation might be hard to come by. Here is the 411 on this mysterious caffeinated chat.

1. Make a list of contacts: Take the time to build a list of potential people you should get to know. Talk to your inner circle -- ask your friends, family, former coworkers and even your profs to recommend or introduce you to people who work in the field you’re interested in.   

2. Connect: Now that you have a general list of people you would like to meet, let’s meet them. Send an email to one of the people on your list and let them know you would love to invite them for coffee. I’m sure your firm is full of friendly people, and I’ve never heard of anyone saying no! It’s best to follow up with a meeting invitation, so that it is booked in both parties’ calendars.

3. Network: Once you’ve booked your coffee meeting, you’re now ready to get your network on. Networking is key! If you have time, do some research about the person you’re meeting.

4. Don’t be afraid: The biggest fear most people have when meeting someone is that it will be awkward, or that you will have nothing to talk about. By reaching out to people that you have a genuine interest in, and doing a little research beforehand, you’ve mitigated a lot of that risk.

5. Ask open-ended questions: For example, “do you enjoy working in [field]?” vs. “tell me what you enjoy about working in [field].” At the end of the day it helps to remember that people like talking about themselves. In reality, you’re more likely to have too much to talk about than nothing at all.

Now that you have rocked your first coffee chat, don’t forget to send a follow-up email or phone call to the person you met to thank them for their time. This is also a great opportunity to set up another time to chat.  Remember, coffee chats are a great way to build relationships, and relationships build over time, so be sure to keep in touch with your new friend.


Zoey is a fourth year student at the Richard Ivey Business Schools majoring in an Honors Business Administration.

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