One of the best things to have in your professional career is a mentor (or a few). Sure, you have a few people that you admire and aspire to be like, but you would never reach out to them. Think again.

It is important to put yourself out there and network. Sitting on the couch and willing for a connection to be made will not work. So put yourself on a limb and invite someone out for the casual coffee meeting.

Follow these few steps and a successful coffee meeting time after time:

  1. Craft the perfect email. It all starts with inviting someone for coffee. Keep your email short. Remember, most people read their emails on their phones. What seems like a concise email on your desktop will read like a novel on your phone. Chances are you are reaching out to a person who has no idea who you are or what you want to meet about. So don’t Stick to these key points in your email: (1) Introduce yourself (2) explain the reason that you would like to meet (3) explain the reason of why he/she will also get out of this meeting (4) name a place to meet (5) give a few times and dates for him/her to choose from. Be sure to follow up on this initial email with an email 2-3 days later and phone call to keep this potential coffee meeting at the top of his/her list.
  2. Arrive 5 minutes early. Once you have a date on the calendar and it finally approaches, don’t take it lightly. Arrive 5-10 minutes early so you are there to greet who you are meeting with when they come through the door.
  3. Do your research. Don’t go into a coffee meeting completely blind. Google the person to find out about their work, follow them on Linked-In, find them on Twitter. You need some sort of common ground to talk about in casual conversation like “I loved that event that your client was a part of.” Research is always impressive.
  4. Have coffee for a reason. Make sure networking doesn’t turn into not working. Chances are the person you want to meet with you doesn’t want to talk about the weather over a cup of joe. Set up a meeting plan to highlight points, projects and reasons for the meeting. Remember, there are two sides to networking: what you get out of it and what the other person gets out of it.
  5. Make later plans. Close out the meeting with a few actionable steps like “I will introduce you to so-and-so” or “Please forward me that invite to the next meeting” and so on. While you both are together, go ahead and grab your calendars to make later plans for your next coffee date a month from now. It’s easier to get in their books as soon as possible than battle

Ever wonder why a coffee date is the norm of all meetings? Jerry Seinfeld says it’s because coffee “obviously gets people talking,” Seinfeld says, “You have coffee and for some reason it makes you talk a lot.” It gives you something to do with your hands, gives you something else to focus on to ease nerves, and is your saving grace if you had a late night. Seinfeld adds, “Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”

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