I recently told one of my YWiB colleagues that I had about 10 coffees setup in the next three weeks. She asked me "How!?" & "With Who!?". It got me thinking about how I find people I'm interesting in talking to, and how I go about asking. So, today I'm going to share ways you can find and approach people for coffee!
Three Ways to Find Coffee Chats
10k Coffees is my favourite platform for this, although it's been a while since I've had a coffee chat on there. When you're starting to build your network, 10k Coffees is a great starting point for finding people with similar interests or someone with career advice on your dream job. Since the platform is so easy to use, it's just a matter of choosing and asking! The platform helps prompt the conversation by asking questions about your intentions, and gives you an understanding of what they want from the site, and gives them knowledge of what you want.
Twitter is another great way to find interesting people in your area. As a blogger, I'm connected to a ton of other bloggers, PR individuals and other cool people in the Toronto and K/W areas. I follow what they're tweeting about, interact a little and then DM them to see if they'd be interested in chatting.
The obvious answer is to go out and find people in person! This could be a specific networking event, a media event or even a group class, like a cooking class! What's great about events is that people go for similar reasons. If I'm going to a networking event, it's because I want to network, and I know others do too. If I'm going to a cooking class, I'm bound to find other people interested in cooking too. You'd be surprised where a conversation about common interests can go!
Three Strategies for Asking Someone on a Coffee Chat
Find a common Interest
Did you both go to Western? Ask them about a professor or specific pub that you loved as a student. Say you're interested in meeting other alumni in the city and want to get together to see how your paths have aligned. Are they in the same industry as you? Reach out and tell them about your interest and that you want to know more about how they got involved.
One thing I've learned is that successful people aren't afraid to talk about their achievements, and that most of them are willing to share that knowledge with someone who they think will benefit from it. You just need to find a common thread to tie you with them, and the rest is simple.
Tell a colleague or friend you are interested in meeting someone in their network
Sometimes being bold is hard. Especially when your network is small, and the concept is still new to you. So, it might be easier (and still totally ok!) for you to ask for a little bit of help.
If you are uncomfortable starting a conversation yourself, ask a friend to introduce you. At networking events, if I'm talking to someone and someone else joins the circle, I try my best to introduce everyone, because that's how I'd want to be treated if the situation was reversed. Or, if you notice your friend has a connection on LinkedIn you're interested in meeting, just ask for a simple intro to them via email. Asking for help is not a weakness, it's a strength to be able to do so when you're uncomfortable! Any of us at YWiB would be happy to introduce you, you've just got to ask!
Tell them about a project you're working on and how they might help
I'm sure everyone at YWiB has used this one, and for good reason! A great way for us to reach out to people we are interested in talking to, is through our not-for-profit work. People tend to be willing to lend an ear to talk, especially if they think you want them involved!
If you don't have a not-for-profit, reach out about any project, academic, personal or professional. Or even ask them about a project you are thinking about starting for a brainstorming session or advice!