Coffee meetings: the key to expand your network as an entrepreneur

Did you know that 70% of job ads do not even get published online? It is a strategy companies use to save time and money on recruitment. Recruiters end up asking their personal network to suggest qualified candidates, that later on can be inspected through LinkedIn and contacted personally.

This widely used strategic recruitment puts a lot of candidates in need for expanding their network to increase chances of exposure and open up to more opportunities.

So how should you expand your network? Two words: Coffee meetings.

1.      Why should you invite someone for a cup of coffee?

The understanding of networking has become a two-way street, which means that people are more open to having a conversation with you regardless of your occupation.

Why should you combine coffee and networking?

  • Informal way of getting to know a new person, learn about their job and field of expertise
  • Making yourself more visible to your connections in case of a new job
  • Ensuring that your LinkedIn connections no longer are strangers to you

The downside of a coffee meeting is that the likelihood of the event happening will entirely depend on the willingness and availability of the person that you would like to meet with. Should you be stressed about this? Not really – if they are not interested, there is no attachment, just move on further in your contact list.

2.      How to increase chances of getting a “yes” response?

Make sure your email is clear, concise and specific. Identify the reason(s) for reaching out to someone and what is it that you would like to gain from a meeting. It is always a great idea to give several options of days and times that person could choose from. That way, invitation has a call-to-action approach.

However, you should not pressure the person into saying “yes”. After all, if they are not interested, they will just ignore your emails. But a “no” is better than being left wondering whether the recipient ever read your message. It is a good idea to add a simple line asking for feedback like “Please let me know, even if you are not interested.”

If you have spent many years working within a specific field, it could be a smart strategy suggesting sharing insights on some topics that they could learn from or use in their line of business.

3.      What should you do before meeting up?

Simple tips on how to leave a positive impression:

  • Research – Look into the people’s career trajectory, accomplishments, things they share on LinkedIn.
  • Prepare – There are endless possibilities on what questions you could ask that would bring the most benefit for you from a meeting. In some cases, you could bring your CV to a meeting to see if your skills could fit with department needs.
  • Set goals –What is important for you to gain from this meeting? If you want to work in the same company, then ask about the culture, tasks, possible position openings in the future. Sharing information about the life journey and career paths is a great way for people to be able to create an opinion about your personality.

4.      Where should you offer to meet up?

It is polite to leave the decision up to your coffee meeting pal – if they prefer office or café. An informal atmosphere is a go-to option, and if someone invites to come by their office, it is okay to come dressed semi-casually. Since it is you asking for their time, picking a place of their convenience is a way to show appreciation of their time.

5.      When is it appropriate to send a follow-up email?

These are 3 types of follow-up emails you could use:

1) Reminder follow-up email if someone did not reply to you from the first time

2) A “Thank you” follow-up email that is sent within 24 hours after the meeting (should be sent between 1-4pm – it increases your chances to have your message read)

3) A casual follow-up email just to catch up on some of their recent events. Ask them about how things are going, about their job or you can also share some industry related articles, that you think they might find interesting.

Following-up is a professional thing to do, it shows that you are genuinely interested in what they do, career choice or industry that they are in.

To summarize, networking can be a helpful way to bond with people within your field, bring new fresh ideas to your tasks or create awareness that you are a job seeker and looking for new opportunities. These tips will make it easier to build confidence and help you approach new people online. Go get those coffee meetings and best of luck!

Article proposed by Migle V. and Paul V., copywriters at Trendhim.fr

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