What Do You Even Do During Coffee Chats????

There is plenty of discussion on how contacting recruiters or alumni to arrange coffee chats is a great way to network and secure a job.

But what do you really talk about during those coffee chats? Do you mainly stick to work-related questions or can you dwell into more casual questions? What are some big questions you should and should not ask?

Most importantly, how do you transition from a coffee chat to a job interview? Do you just show interest in the company, hinting that you want to work for them, or do you explicitly state that you are interested in a position? How do you follow up after a coffee chat?

Comments (13)

Jan 28, 2018

I'll start with the disclosure that my LinkedIn gets hit up for these coffee chats on a regular basis (VP level at a BB) but I've never taken someone up on it.

But, I would imagine that these chats are not something that you should look at as leading to an interview, at least not right away. It's more of a "long con" where you should seek to form a friendship and be inquisitive both about the target company and your career and life in general. If someone approached me with questions only relating to this company's analyst program and how I can get them in, that would be a turn-off. But if someone was seeking a mentor and wanted to ask for my help on life in general, that I would view as more productive during a coffee chat. If a friendship develops and down the road, if I hear of a department needing an able-body, guess who I'm going to refer?

Jan 28, 2018
MikiTheMonkey:

There is plenty of discussion on how contacting recruiters or alumni to arrange coffee chats is a great way to network and secure a job.

But what do you really talk about during those coffee chats? Do you mainly stick to work-related questions or can you dwell into more casual questions? What are some big questions you should and should not ask?

Most importantly, how do you transition from a coffee chat to a job interview? Do you just show interest in the company, hinting that you want to work for them, or do you explicitly state that you are interested in a position? How do you follow up after a coffee chat?

Typically best thing to do is find a good spot that makes a nice coffee with whipped cream topped with a cherry.

When you sit down, wait to eat the cherry.

If they ask, 'What are you going to do with that cherry?', throw it back at them like 'What do you want me to do with that cherry?'

See, it's all about asking the right questions.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 28, 2018
wilowallstreet:

Honestly I don't remember them. I don't think that many college students actually reached out. But look if this is about how to have a good coffee chat, then the only way to be good is to fail a few times. That's sort of the trick to life in general. As the saying goes: fail early and fail often. You are going to be much better off taking risks and failing now then in 5 or 10yrs time.

As for how to have a good coffee chat:
a) ask good questions - not something you could read on a website or book
b) be professional
c) help them in some way. give something back. If nothing else buy them the coffee and send a thank you car
d) have high energy, don't spend the time talking about yourself, and don't complain about anything

that's it

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 29, 2018
Isaiah_53_5:
wilowallstreet:

Honestly I don't remember them. I don't think that many college students actually reached out. But look if this is about how to have a good coffee chat, then the only way to be good is to fail a few times. That's sort of the trick to life in general. As the saying goes: fail early and fail often. You are going to be much better off taking risks and failing now then in 5 or 10yrs time.

As for how to have a good coffee chat:
a) ask good questions - not something you could read on a website or book
b) be professional
c) help them in some way. give something back. If nothing else buy them the coffee and send a thank you car
d) have high energy, don't spend the time talking about yourself, and don't complain about anything

that's it

Send a thank you car I always make sure to thank them with a new Mercedes :)

    • 1
Best Response
Jan 28, 2018

Stare directly into their eyes and take a sip when they do

    • 10
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Jan 29, 2018
TippyTop11:

Stare directly into their eyes and take a sip when they do

hahaha this is gold

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 28, 2018

Honestly get any banker to talk about themselves and how they got to where they are and what recommendations they have for someone in your spot. People love talking about themselves, especially successful bankers, just lead them to it

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Jan 29, 2018
pubfinanalyst:

Honestly get any banker to talk about themselves and how they got to where they are and what recommendations they have for someone in your spot. People love talking about themselves, especially successful bankers, just lead them to it

This is definitely true, more than many junior people realize. When a person opens up and talks to you about them-self, they generally like YOU as a person. You were there to listen, to share in their memories, to smile, laugh and engage.

Now, if you think that you can impress this person sitting across from you by describing how you gained a leadership perspective from your HS ECs and being captain of the lacrosse team, this might be quite an accomplishment to you, but typically points you bring up to make yourself look good are best when prompted by the other person.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 29, 2018

You mean you haven't figured out coffee chat is a euphemism for homo lovin?

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Jan 29, 2018

My framework for networking during coffee chats:

Ask them to tell you about their career and how they got started in their industry/area of expertise. Then move on to what they like about working at their current firm. After that ask about what they look for in potential analysts/new hires. At this point they will probably offer to put you in touch with HR, but if not, just ask to be put in touch with someone and if you haven't totally shit the bed they will happily help you out. After that, they will ask you if you have any other questions and I usually just say "nope you've answered all the questions I have and thank you for your time."

*Also at any time be ready to tell them in depth about yourself. Have this part down cold and you'll sound intelligent and that you take their time seriously.

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Funniest
Jan 30, 2018

Immediately bring up all the past valuations that you've down in the past and walk him / her through all 3 financial statements. The more in depth and complex you get into each line item, the better

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Jan 31, 2018

Indulge in their eccentricities and afford them your attention and excitement as they unload their career stories, tips, and anecdotes. Ideally, you want the person you are getting coffee with to walk away WANTING to help you before you have even explicitly told them what it is you would like for them to do for you. In a sense, you are almost setting yourself up for the other individual to make the first move in getting you on track for whatever career goal you want to accomplish. I speak from experience as I set up a number of these back when I was a student trying to find internships in areas I liked. Ultimately, most of the people I reached out to ended up becoming good friends and in most cases offered to (and followed through) help me intern with their teams. I think your main goal during these chats should be to attentively listen and also connect with the individual on a casual basis. The challenge is you want him to get a feel for who you are outside of your academic responsibilities but you have to do this without talking too much. Good luck.

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Feb 3, 2018
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