Do's & Don'ts of Coffee Meetings

Today, I’ve got some “do’s” and “don’ts” for informational coffee meetings.  It’s super-important to have one-on-one meetings with legal professionals in your area. Meeting individually gives you the opportunity to learn about how other people found success in their legal careers. Plus, it helps expand your network. The best, and cheapest way, to have an informational meeting is over coffee.
I’ve compiled a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” that I’ve learned from personal experience and, now, having been on both sides of the “informational” meeting.
Don’t take your resume. It’s not an interview! However, you can send it ahead of time if you don’t know the person that well. That will given them a chance to think of a few talking points, if needed. Be careful to not convey an expectation that the meeting is an interview or the means to a job with your guest.
Do take a legal pad. It’s great to take notes and jot down a few questions ahead of time. Just don’t open a laptop and have a physical divider between you and your guest. It also can be a distraction and make you appear uninterested.
Do try to arrive 10 minutes before the meeting. This will give you a chance to scout out a great seating location or table. You don’t want to be left awkwardly trying to find a table once your guest arrives!
Don’t order food. It’s difficult to have a conversation (or focus on the other person) while wondering when you’re going to take the next bite.
Do always offer to buy their coffee and don’t order coffee if you’re the first to arrive. Go ahead and grab a table to wait. Once they arrive, leave your bag or notepad at the table while you go order.
Do shake their hand when they arrive. Hugs are a tricky situation. On the west coast, hugs tend to be more common. If in doubt, just go for a hand shake. I had someone tell me “We hug in California.” So, they’ll happily correct you if they want more than a hand shake!
Don’t forget to research your guest! It’s important to know the basics: where they went to undergrad, law school or any other degrees they obtained; where they’ve worked in the past; any common interests or experiences; whether you have any mutual connections; recent publications they’ve been a part of; whether they’ve been involved in a big case or current event you’ve heard about.
Do connect with your guest via LinkedIn. If they have a public Twitter account, you can also follow them. However, don’t cross the line to Facebook.
Do ask about any internship/job openings or opportunities they know about within their professional network.
Don’t ask if their firm, company or organization is hiring or looking to hire soon. You’re not meeting with them for an interview or opportunity to intern or work for them.
Do follow up with a handwritten thank you card delivered old school via snail mail! It’s always polite and shows professionalism. Everyone loves getting a physical letter or note and it’s another opportunity to get you on their mind.
Have any additional “do’s” or “don’ts” you’ve learned from personal experience? Share them in the comments below! Make sure you subscribe and never miss future videos from Law School Strategy! Go forth and get caffeinated!