The Power of Coffee Chats

Be a game changer: Ask these  seven questions to boost your career.   Do you prepare intentional and laser-focused questions for a meeting …

Be a game changer: Ask these  seven questions to boost your career.



Do you prepare intentional and laser-focused questions for a meeting with a potential mentor well in advance? You should, otherwise you’re wasting precious time.

A while ago, I attended an event featuring leadership expert John Maxwell. He spoke about the importance of asking powerful questions, a strategy successful leaders use to achieve their professional best. The practice is so important that Maxwell wrote a book about this very thing, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.

One of my biggest takeaways from the event was preparing for the “coffee” meeting—the informal chat where you hope to start building an authentic relationship with someone. Let’s be clear: This is not a sales meeting or an informational interview. It’s a meeting to cultivate a genuine connection, not to ask for a lead, a job, or some business.

Below are seven questions you should ask any successful person you admire and respect.

  1. What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
  2. What are you learning now?
  3. How has failure shaped your life?
  4. Who do you know that I should know?
  5. What have you read that I should read?
  6. What have you done that I should do?
  7. How can I add value to you?

It’s powerful, right? The answers to these questions have the possibility of saving you years of struggle and will fuel you to travel further faster, gain new industry insights, earn a future interview invitation, or have a new mentor in your corner.

Finally, don’t screw up on the follow-through. Be sure to circle back to your coffee companion to communicate what action steps you took as a result of the advice and how the meeting positively energized your career. Perhaps you read a book that was suggested or joined a specific industry group. Remember to share.

What are you waiting on? Pick up the phone or shoot an email to ask for a coffee date. It could be a game changer for you, and your only cost will be a cup of java. I’ll take a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte®—make mine a skinny, please.

Beth Bryce is a career strategist and transformation coach. To comment on this article or to share your own observations, contact Beth Bryce by email at


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