Pro-tip: the most valuable part of a coffee chat is the quality of the questions! We don’t want you to waste your opportunity, so we suggest asking these powerful coffee chat questions to make the conversation more engaging and productive.
Before we get into what questions to ask during a coffee chat, it’s important to know what it means. A coffee chat isn’t supposed to be literal – it doesn't have to be over coffee, nor is it a random chat you happen to have at a coffee store!
A coffee chat is an informal (for the most part) chat that you have with someone you want in your professional network. Often, these meetings involve a discussion about one’s career goals in a particular profession or industry.
There are many different ways to prepare for a coffee chat – one of them is listing out all the questions you plan to ask. However, preparing questions beforehand is only one part of the coffee chat. It is important to have a discussion in the moment based on what answers your partner gives, rather than only asking questions you’ve already planned for.
The foundation of a productive coffee chat lies in the questions you ask. Instead of sticking to generic inquiries, dive deeper to gain valuable insights. Ask about their career journey, challenges, and lessons learned. Consider these networking questions as a starting point:
This question is an opportunity to get to know your coffee chat partner better. It is also a good segway into talking about your career goals and asking for advice!
This question offers a deeper perspective into what challenges you might run into during the pursuit of your career. It also allows you to build a meaningful bond with your coffee chat partner since you are addressing questions that go beyond surface-level small talk.
Everyone faces challenges and triumphs in their career. By asking for lessons learned, you're not just getting a chronological account of their professional life; you're delving into the distilled wisdom gained from both successes and setbacks.
This question also encourages you to learn from your coffee chat partner’s mistakes and avoid them altogether.
These questions allow you to gain insight into your guest’s role. It’s also a good opportunity to understand how they manage their time and build their work ethic. A good follow-up could be to ask about their professional growth journey.
One of the best ways of understanding what works for you is through hearing about other people’s experiences with the same. To build your work ethic, it’s important to understand what setbacks you might unknowingly be facing.
Hearing other people’s experiences might help you gain insight into what you could work on.
After making a good impression through your questions, this is the perfect method to expand your professional network and potentially meet other helpful people to learn from. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to new resources and websites.
Remember that the goal is to keep in touch with them! Ask them where you could contact them if you have any questions – make sure to be active on LinkedIn or email in case any opportunities arise. Be eager, but not too eager! Make sure not to spam them by reaching out too often.
Don't wait for the other person to lead the conversation. Taking the initiative shows confidence and a genuine interest in the discussion. Begin with an icebreaker, share a bit about yourself, and smoothly transition into asking open-ended questions. This approach sets a positive tone for the conversation and encourages a more dynamic exchange of ideas.
Approaching a coffee chat with a clear goal in mind ensures a purposeful interaction. Define what you hope to gain from the conversation, whether it's industry insights, advice on a specific challenge, or expanding your professional network. Having a goal helps guide your questions and keeps the conversation focused and beneficial for both parties.
Networking is not just about exchanging business cards; it's about building authentic connections. During a coffee chat, focus on creating a genuine rapport. Be an active listener, express appreciation for their insights, and find common ground. If appropriate, share your own experiences and perspectives. Building a strong connection during the coffee chat can lead to ongoing professional relationships.
Bhavna is a Marketing and Content Intern at Litespace. She has a background in digital marketing and psychology. She is passionate about combining content strategy with creativity to build meaningful connections within hybrid and remote working environments.