My 21 Learnings on How to Have a Perfect Networking Meeting

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A: Principles

  1. Don’t think of your coffee meeting as networking. Think of it as relationship building. Treat ‘networking’ as an opportunity to have interesting chats with interesting people. Be human. 
  2. The first goal is you want the other person to like you. I’ll get into this soon.
  3. Think of your meeting as a conversation, not an interview. You don’t want to sound like an interviewer coming in with canned questions.
  4. But still do your homework. Know who you are talking to, their background, and anything you might have in common.
  5. Recognise that feelings of imposter syndrome (LINK) are normal. But realise that you have no reason to feel like an imposter. Big-time execs are human. They are fathers and mothers with children and were in your place one day.
  6. SMILE!

B: The Start: First Impressions

  1. In the first 2 minutes, you need to break the ice by doing most of the talking. Be authentic. Be human. Be personable and charismatic.
  2. In the first 3 minutes you need to have clearly articulated why you reached out to the person. Use this to guide the discussion so the other person doesn’t feel awkward. 
  3. SMILE!

C: The Middle: Build Rapport & Learn

  1.  Follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of the conversation should be about you.
  2. Ask interesting questions. Keep your eyes on Max, Hannah and Blake’s LinkedIn, we’ll soon be sharing a list of the top 20 questions to ask in a coffee meeting, and we’d love to connect with our readers!
    1. We’ve curated these questions from our own experience and our lessons from ‘super connectors’. They will be beyond your typical career talk questions, and allow the conversation to flow naturally and meaningfully
  3. Having done your homework in point 5 gives you stuff to talk about. You will both connect better and enjoy yourselves more if you come to the conversation with some talking points.
  4.  You don’t have to talk about business the whole time. Talk about their hobbies. Talk about what you have in common. Similarities make people like each other.
  5.  Subtly ping for topics of mutual interest. E.g. “ This Saturday, after watching the football I’m having a poker night with mates before I drive down to the snow on Sunday with my brother”. If the other person is into (a) football, (b) poker, (c) skiing, he or she can now easily bring it up.
  6. Show that you are interesting by talking about what interests you. This could be an opinion on the markets, the latest book or article you’ve read, the marathon you are training for, etc. 
  7. SMILE!

D: The End: Leave a Lasting Impression

  1. Keep to the allotted time.
  2. Don’t wait for the conversation to lull to a deadzone before ending, because that will then be your lasting impression. Err on the side of ending the chat early rather than limping it along. End on a high.
  3. You can end with “do you mind if I follow up if I have any questions?”
  4. It’s typically acceptable to ask “I’m currently looking for an internship in the XYZ industry, would you happen to know any positions open somewhere?” This can be better than asking “are there any jobs at your firm”, but it’s circumstantial.
  5. You guessed it – smile 🙂

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