How to Get Coffee With Colleagues (Email Scripts)

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One of the best actions you can take at a new job, internship, or role is to ask your colleagues out for coffee or lunch. You make an impression on them, learn more about the company (which helps you avoid mistakes and get promoted faster), and can grow your professional network with the people who can actually help you.

Yet few people do it.

I can get why. It feels awkward at first. To some people it feels insincere. It can even come off as creepy (heck, while doing research on this page title, I saw that half of the results for "asking colleagues out to coffee" was about dating...this is not about that). And it can be scary to ask somebody considerably more experienced than you out for coffee or lunch.

But most of those concerns are just in your head.

Most people appreciate being noticed and will say yes to the opportunity to sit down with a young, new colleague sincerely looking to learn more about them and their role. That so few people do it means getting Very Busy People like bosses, executives, and managers to say yes is actually pretty easy.

Why You Should Get Coffee With Colleagues

When I was working my first office job in Washington, DC, I made a point, on recommendation from a mentor, to ask everybody I directly interacted with out to coffee. It was one of the highest ROI decisions I made that summer.

Most people said yes.

Some of these people were other interns. Some were direct managers. Even others were executives with decades of experience. Those interns became my friends. The managers became my references. And the executives still remember me when I go back to their organizations and ask for introductions and opportunities.

Some of them told me what to look out for that summer and what mistakes to avoid as an intern. Still others made me privy to major bottlenecks the organization experienced that I could help solve. I learned more about the organization and the industry in those coffee meetings than I learned the rest of the summer.

The trick to getting coffee with colleagues is to do it sincerely and intentionally.

You don't want to come off as a sleazy networker who is just trying to grow his network. Networking isn't useful if you're just doing it to grow your network. You want to meet the right people who can tell you the right information and introduce you to the right opportunities. That takes intentionality.

Here are some scripts you can use to reach out to colleagues and ask them to grab coffee with you. In these coffee meetings, you should focus on asking them sincere questions about themselves and the organization.

Email Scripts & Examples

The script you want to use changes depending on whom you're emailing. If you're emailing somebody you know well and/or your organization has a casual vibe, you'll want to use the casual script.

If you're emailing somebody considerably more senior than you and/or your organization has a formal, established vibe, you'll want to use the business formal script.

Casual Script:

Hey [Name],

I just started in [role] and would like to take you out for coffee sometime next week and learn more about your time at [company].

Do you have time next [Weekday 1] or [Weekday 2] [time of day] at [specific time]? If not, let me know a time [Weekday 3] or [Weekday 4] that works for you.

[Your Name]

Here's what that might look like in practice:

Hey Jack,

I just started in business development and would like to take you out for coffee sometime next week and learn more about your time at Bizcorp.

Do you have time to meet next Tuesday or Wednesday mornings at 9 AM? If not, let me know a time Thursday or Friday that works for you.

Sarah

Use this script with colleagues near your age and experience level. Don't forget to ask colleagues who are your peers out.

Business Casual Script:

Hi [Name],

We haven’t met but I just started at [role] in the [specific department] department. I’d like to take you out for coffee next week and learn more about your time at [company] and your experience.

I understand you’re quite busy, but do you have 30 minutes next [Weekday 1] or [Weekday 2] [time of day] at [specific time]? Alternatively, I’m available [Weekday 3] at [specific time], too.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

Here's what that might look like in practice:

Hi Jack,

We haven't met but I just started at Bizcorp in the Business Development department. I'd like to take you out for coffee next week and learn more about your time here and your experience.

I understand you're quite busy, but do you have 30 minutes next Monday or Tuesday mornings at 9 AM? Alternatively, I'm available Thursday at 10:30 AM, too.

Thank you,

Sarah

This is good to use with managers and colleagues a little more senior than you whom you haven't met. If you have met them but you think the relationship is still relatively formal, you can leave out the "We haven't met," part.

Business Formal Script:

Hello [Name (include title if applicable, e.g., Dr., Prof., Mr.)],

My name is [your name] and I am a new employee in the [specific department] working as [title].

We have not yet met, but I am making an effort to learn more about the rest of the team at [company] and their backgrounds and experiences. I’d like to take you out for coffee next week and learn more about how you got to where you are. [OPTIONAL: Specific area you'd like to ask about.]

Do you have 30 minutes [Weekday 1] or [Weekday 2] [time of day] between [specific time] and [specific time]? Alternatively, I could make time [Weekday 3] [time of day] at [specific time].

Thank you,

[Your Name]

Here's what that might look like in practice:

Hello Dr. Anderson,

My name is Sarah Namexample and I am a new employee in the Business Development department working as a Business Development Representative.

We haven't met yet, but I am making an effort to learn more about the rest of the team at Bizcorp and their backgrounds and experiences. I'd like to take you out for coffee next week and learn more about how you got to where you are. Specifically, I'd really like to know more about how you went from being a philosophy PhD to running a manufacturing company.

Do you have 30 minutes Tuesday or Wednesday mornings between 8:30 and 10? Alternatively, I could make time Friday morning between 10 and noon.

Thank you,

Sarah Namexample

You can use this script with senior colleagues and people considerably more experienced than you. It's important to signal to them that you won't waste their time, so coming with evidence that you've researched them helps.

Questions You Can Ask

Once you get colleagues to sit down with you, let them talk about themselves and the organization. People feel better about conversations where somebody else takes an interest in them.

If you get anxious or nervous in these kinds of conversations, here are some questions you can ask to get things rolling:

  • What made you decide to join [company]?
  • What did you do before you joined [company]?
  • What do you wish you had known when you were my age?
  • What did you learn the hard way in your job?
  • What's changed since you first started?
  • Who else do you think I should meet?
    • This one is really important. You can armchair all you want about who is most important to know in your company or industry, but it's people with experience and tacit knowledge (the kind of knowledge gained only after years of work) who really know the people you should connect with.

 

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I'm Zak. School should have taught you how to succeed at work and build a great career. Instead, it taught you that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Thankfully, I teach what school never taught.

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