Someone recently paid $610,000 to share coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook. To the person who won the bidding war: sip your latte slowly. Every gulp will run you about 50 grand.
And it may be worth it… because a networking meeting with the right person can open doors never thought possible. Which is why young professionals must maximize every coffee chat, lunch date and after-work happy hour… even when they don’t cost over a half million dollars.
Here are some tips to help you do just that:
Step 1. Come Prepared
Before you sit down to coffee, do your homework. If you’re meeting with a respected scientist, read one of her published works. If the person is in marketing, study up on a project he recently completed. Check them out on LinkedIn and see where they went to school; maybe you went to the same school. Always look for conversation talking points.
Step 2. Ask Deep Questions
Armed with the knowledge from your fact-finding mission, you’re ready to probe. Forget about typical questions like ‘So what kind of work do you do?’ Thanks to your research, you can drop something like this: ‘I saw your company just finished a big PR campaign with Pepsi. What was the most interesting part of that project for you?’
More next-level networking questions to ask:
- What makes an employee valuable to you?
- Where do you think the industry is going? What are the trends in the market?
- What kinds of skills do young professionals need today?
- If you were me, just starting out in the job world, what do you wish you’d have known?
- Do you know of any trade groups, industry associations or networking opportunities I should check out?
Step 3. Cut to the Chase
Once you and the person have exchanged life stories, it’s time for the golden rule of sales: ABC or “always be closing.” Come right out and say, “I’m hoping you can put me in touch with other people in our field who might be looking for a new team member with my background” and then, “To get the ball rolling, would you please send an introduction?”
Most won’t mind sending out emails on your behalf, but no one loves to do it. It’s extra work that they’re not getting paid to do. You need to meet the person halfway. Say: “Feel free to copy me on your emails, and if the person responds, I’ll take it from there.”
Now, your networking partner knows all they need to do is send one email, and you’ll handle the rest. Aren’t you awesome?
Step 4. Wrap It Up with a Bow
Once the networking meeting ends, write a thank-you email before the end of the day. Under no circumstances can you forget that final step. Here’s what the person will think if you don’t send the email: “I just spent an hour of my precious time with some young kid who isn’t grateful.”
Need a little help writing the note? Below is a template. Remember, be specific and prove you were paying attention.
Thank you again for meeting with me today. I really enjoyed learning more about the work you do and the industry, in general. I’m always looking for new and creative ways to use social media and hashtags, so your Pepsi campaign is so interesting. I’ll make sure to keep an eye on that project.
Also, thank you again for sending those introductions to <Name 1> and <Name 2>. Please do ‘cc’ me on each email, and I’ll make sure to respond right away. And, of course, please let me know how I can best help you.
Thank you again. I look forward to our next conversation!
An effective networking meeting can change your life forever. To give yourself the best odds, do your homework, ask great questions, ‘always be closing,’ and remember the thank-you note.
Oh, and don’t forget to finish your coffee. It may not cost $600,000, but every cent counts.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at News to Live By!
About the Author: Danny Rubin is the creator and writer of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. In one short-and-sweet column, Danny recaps a top news story and explains how it can make us better at our jobs. He’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Business Insider, and his work has also been featured in The New York Times. Follow News To Live By on Twitter.