When you’re connecting with someone for the first time, you want to make a strong impression. Trying to accomplish this when meeting in person is challenging enough. Learning how to network virtually presents a different set of challenges that you’ll need to overcome. In either case, the reality is that networking is important. If there’s an opportunity for you to sit with someone who can potentially impact your career, directly or indirectly, you shouldn’t pass that up. Think about this: someone worth knowing and connecting with has agreed to share their time with you. You need to respect that time by being clear and intentional with your conversation. Before taking the first steps to prepare for your virtual coffee chat, you need to know what you hope to get out of it. This clarity will go a long way in driving the conversation and nurturing the relationship so that it’s not just a one-time thing.
Coffee chats are usually in-person meetings you set up with someone you want to add to your network. A virtual coffee chat is the same thing, except you’re meeting people over a video app or software like Zoom, Skype or even Google Hangouts. In either case, coffee chats are an effective way to make networking more personal.
There are many ways in which a coffee chat can help impact your career.
As we mentioned before, a virtual coffee chat has its own etiquette. The very fact that you’ll be communicating through technology means there needs to be additional steps taken on your end to be sure the conversation goes smoothly.
Preparation is always the key. The more prepared you are, the better chances you have of making a solid and lasting impression. Consider these steps when preparing for your virtual coffee chat.
Very few things stand out more in a coffee chat then when you show you’ve taken the time to learn about the other person. The more detailed you can get, the better. It’s a good idea not to limit yourself to researching what this person has done in their career, but find out something personal. It’s a way to build the trust and genuine connection we mentioned earlier.
This speaks to being clear about what your goals are. An elevator pitch is how you express your value in a concise manner. And just because you’re not face to face doesn’t mean you won’t get nervous. Practice it out loud and practice while you’re sitting in front of your screen. Get one of your friends on a video chat and practice while they’re on the other line. It will help with your nerves by recreating the scene as close as possible to what you will experience once you’re in your virtual coffee chat. Learn how to create the perfect elevator pitch with Prepped.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but we will. Being on time means that you’re set up in a quiet spot with the windows closed and all the equipment tested well ahead of your scheduled chat. You should actually be waiting on the line before the other person gets on.
Again, this person has given up their time to speak with you. Sending a thank you note acknowledges that you respect that time and are appreciative of them sharing their knowledge. Keep it simple but be thoughtful and genuine. Having a coffee chat is only one element of networking - there’s a lot of pre- and post-work that all networking pros do. Prepped can help:
Now that you’ve learned how to take part in a virtual coffee chat, sign up for Prepped and gain access to additional tools and resources aimed to help you improve your networking.