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October 7, 2013

Navigating Coffee Chats

By Christina Hildreth Anderson '14  |  october, 2013, Issue 1
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Christina Anderson


Corporate Conversations and Meet-n-Greets begin for first-years on Oct. 21, around the same time that you may want to begin scheduling coffee chats with people in your network. Before then, utilize this information when talking with your classmates and second-years!

Set Up: Most recruiters who visit campus for events will make themselves available for "coffee chats" (which may or may not actually include coffee), but remember, some have incredibly busy schedules. Here are a few tips for securing that meeting time:

Follow up promptly. Recruiters are more likely to remember your name (and open your email!) if you contact them within 24 to 48 hours after you meet – whether through an event or a mutual connection.

Go to them. If the recruiter can meet you in person, go to their office, or somewhere that is easy for them. If the recruiter is not able to meet in person, ask what medium they prefer (phone, Skype, etc).

Offer several scheduling options. Give the recruiter two or three time slots that work for you and let them pick the option that best fits their schedule.

Confirm the meeting the day before. Sometimes things come up. A quick confirmation email the day before reminds the recruiters of your appointment and brings it to the top of their minds.

Prepare: Coffee chats are invaluable tools to learn more about a company. Yes, you'll do a little bit of selling yourself too, but more than anything, use this time to find out what makes the company tick. Here are a few tips to help prepare:

Know the person. Use LinkedIn to research the recruiter's background. Do a Google search to find any articles he may have written or interviews she's given. Use this information to frame your questions.

Know the company. Have familiarity with recent company (or competitor) news. Ask the recruiter if it has affected her role, and how it could impact the company's strategy.

Know yourself. Coffee chats are a good way to get a preliminary sense of fit. Know your own deal breakers, and don't be afraid to discreetly ask about them during the chat. If a company is not a good fit for you, it's better to find that out now.

Conduct: Meeting with a recruiter individually can be nerve-wracking. Here are a few ideas to make a good impression:

Dress as you would for a Corporate Conversation. Depending on your industry, this may be close to interview attire, or it may be business casual.

Get there early. If you are visiting a recruiter at her office, give yourself an extra 15 to 20 minutes. Arriving sweaty, rushed and stressed out doesn't help you keep your cool during the meeting.

Conclude: Send a thank you email within 24 hours, and ask if there is anyone else at the firm the recruiter thinks you should meet. Recruiters are often happy to refer students to a colleague for a different perspective on the company.

Last Updated 10/7/13
Last Updated 10/7/13