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The Dos and Don'ts of Getting Coffee Meetings

August 6, 2020

Doing coffee meetings should be in every (current or aspiring) professional’s repertoire. But getting one in the first place is another story. As a student or an inexperienced job seeker, you often cannot land a coffee meeting with high-profile leaders with your credentials alone. When you have barely made a name for yourself, it’s very difficult to schedule one-on-one meetings with your business role models and decision-makers. But it’s not impossible, you just have to show them you’re worth their precious time.

DO message them in a clear and concise manner

Always have an agenda in mind when trying to land a coffee meeting. Don’t waste your prospect's time by meeting them just for the sake of it. You should have something to pitch to them that clearly states what you hope to achieve with the meeting. The number one rule of prospecting applies here - don't make it about yourself. Talk about how your ask is specifically relevant to them. 


With that in mind, email them directly or message them on more professionally-learning social channels like Twitter and Linkedin.

You can easily find someone’s email on their profiles or the contact page of their website. Follow a template for email writing to ensure that you’re using the right language and that you’re being polite and clear. Click here for four networking email templates to get you on your way. 

A basic email template, better if you customize it as your own!

DON’T slide into the DMs randomly

Emails, Twitter and Linkedin messages are fine, but phone-calling or random Instagram messaging is a no go. Message them with a purpose, don’t just randomly “slide” into someone’s DMs. Chances are, they won’t click to read it if your opening line contains internet slang and numerous emojis. This goes without saying, but the language you use should be proper and grammatically correct, so none of that text-y stuff. Instagram messaging is doable if you stick to a short, friendly, and personal introduction, rather than it seeming like a templated sales pitch.

                                                     This is what you should NOT do.

Be aware of the impression you're leaving on the other person. Emails and Twitter messages do make you seem more business-like and serious, compared to the casual nature of Instagram. Just don’t send people gifs or Snapchat message them.

DO your homework before networking

Do your homework on the potential meeting candidate. Don’t necessarily stalk them, but research their career development, business vision, published professional content, or just general things that you know will be interesting for discussion. This can make for a great icebreaker when you network with them, or to include in your email as well. It doesn’t have to be business-related; it can be their hobbies as well if they make references to them in their professional pages. (We would draw the line at snooping on Instagram and Facebook.) Connecting with people through interests is a fantastic way of securing their attention to what you have to say.

"It's not stalking, it's expanding my network!"

Avoid high-traffic areas and times when scheduling your meetings. Don’t choose the most popular Starbucks even if the environment is impressive. There’s hardly any space there usually, and it’s loud. Scheduling during peak lunch hours is unwise too, but for busy business people, it may be the only time they’re free. So, do your café homework as well before heading into the meeting.

DON’T be afraid to make the first move

One thing that is stopping people from reaching out is their lack of courage. Either they’re afraid of rejection or is generally intimidated by the person. But think about it this way, most people are often too busy to take their sweet time in scrutinizing your every word. The worst thing that could happen is them ignoring you. Like job seeking, be prepared for the worst and just hope for the best.

C-levels and professionals at the top of the pyramid are go-getters. This makes sense - they don't get to where they are without a sense of hustle. They would probably appreciate someone proactive in reaching out, so don’t worry about it and start messaging!

Be assertive like George the guinea pig, but just tone it down a notch.

DO find a suitable café beforehand

As mentioned, find a suitable café to recommend before trying to land a coffee meeting. When they eventually agree to your proposal, you wouldn't want to rush your decision in café choices, because choosing the right setting is extremely important. Just take a look at these locations and tell me the café environment doesn't matter.

Out of the three cafes, which one do you think is most suitable for a business meeting? As you can see, the cafe environment does matter. (The answer is the far left one, by the way)

Even if you have chosen the perfect café that represents your extravagant ideas, there might not be spaces available on the day. Unlike a restaurant, you can’t just call up a café to reserve tables... or can you?

The BOOQED app allows you to reserve and book café tables beforehand, saving you from embarrassment when you schedule your once-in-a-lifetime coffee meeting with that special prospect. Our selection of cafes is suitable for all occasions, but especially important coffee meetings. It also saves you from the awkward moment of having to figure out who foots the bill at the end.

DON’T annoy people with walking/elevator pitches

We’ve seen it in movies - a guy walking the head honcho to their car while desperately trying to pitch their ideas. Although this is one way of approaching someone, this often leads to a bad impression when you’re stumbling on your words, and stumbling on your walk too. Elevator pitches are smart when they're done correctly (and solicited), but more often than not, its success lies in being in the right place at the right time. It’s too luck dependent to be counted on, but if you want, prepare a speech or a topic beforehand so you can pitch to someone if the right opportunity ever comes along.

                                         Just waiting to jump into the right opportunity...

DO maintain the connections you’ve made

Once you’ve achieved your goal, maintaining your connection is vital in prolonging your relationship and diversifying/widening your connections. The person you met with may even act as your mentor and introduce you to other great leaders. Secure your connections with them by doing more coffee meetings as a catch-up, engage with them on social media, etc. The more networking you do, the better you’ll be at it and the higher your reputation will be on the job market.

Here’s how to send a follow up email for the coffee meetings you’ve had, and examples of some email subject lines.

Source: Hubspot

DON’T take things personally when things don’t work out

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you plan. The meeting might be unsuccessful, or the person you want to meet never replied. Either way, there are always more opportunities to grab hold of. Learn from your mistakes and try again with someone else you want to connect with. Continue to build your portfolio both online and offline and watch those coffee meetings roll by.

The good news is, there are a lot of people who do care as well! It all comes down to trial and error.

There are so many people in the world to network with, but people tend to network with immediate connections around them. How do you go about in expanding your business circle? Someone as busy as you may not have time out of work to freely network...unless you work at a coworking space.

DO cast a wider networking net

With coworking spaces, you can work and network with people from different industries. People who work at coworking spaces are often freelancers, entrepreneurs, and people with good work ethics (or else they wouldn’t be working in a flex space). Whether you’re looking to talk to people of experience, or just there for work, you might just exit the space with a coffee meeting already planned. BOOQED can help you get your desired space on-demand!

Download our app now to get coworking spaces and café tables in Hong Kong and Singapore! Available on Android and iOS.