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Best Questions to Ask During a Networking Coffee Chat

Updated: May 6

a coffee chat can be used to create networking opportunities


Turn your coffee breaks into opportunities for genuine connection with our data-backed list of conversation starters. We based this on feedback from having facilitated thousands of coffee chats with Dewdropz, our Microsoft Teams app for shaping workplace culture. These questions are meant to kickstart engaging discussions, but remember, the art of conversation is fluid. There's no perfect script for meaningful interactions...but these are pretty good in helping you kickstart the conversation.

Hint: Want to skip the reading? Try our free Icebreaker question generator where you just pick a topic and press a button to get a question.

6 Things to consider when building rapport in the workplace

Before we jump into some questions to ask, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Be Yourself: Authenticity is key in any interaction. Recognize your strengths and play to them. If small talk isn’t your thing, dive into more substantial topics like discussing hobbies or professional experiences that resonate more deeply.

  2. Listen Actively: True connection starts with listening. Focus on understanding the other person rather than thinking about what to say next. This not only helps you learn more about them but also shows that you value their thoughts and feelings.

  3. Mind Your Body Language: Nonverbal cues are as important as your words. Maintain eye contact, nod to show understanding, and smile to make the conversation feel warm and engaging.

  4. Find Common Ground: Discovering shared interests or experiences can be a powerful way to connect. Pay attention to small details—like a book on their desk or a picture they might have displayed—that can lead to deeper conversations.

  5. Cultivate Empathy: Even if you don’t share much in common, empathy can bridge that gap. Show genuine interest in their experiences and offer support when needed. Whether they’re new in town or just had a tough meeting, a little empathy can go a long way.

  6. Ask Open-Ended Questions: To encourage a richer dialogue, use questions that invite elaboration. Instead of asking, "How long have you been in your role?" try "What led you to your current role?" This opens up the floor for a more engaging conversation.

Best Questions to ask during a coffee chat when:

Here are a few questions to try depending on the scenario you find yourself in. If you would just like a random question suggestion you can also try our free tool : Icebreaker question generator for fun questions to get the conversation started.

1. Meeting Someone New at Work, What to ask

Kick off a great relationship with someone new using these easy-going questions:

  • What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?

  • What attracted you to work in this industry and with our company?

  • What’s a piece of advice that has influenced your career?

  • How do you usually like to spend your weekends?

2. Catching up with a Long-Time Colleague

Reignite an old professional relationship with these thoughtful questions:

  • What’s a new hobby or interest you’ve picked up recently?

  • Looking back, what’s something you feel really proud of here at work?

  • Are you thinking about learning any new skills these days?

  • How do you find balance between work and your personal life?

3. Quick Coffee Chat Tips with a Co-Worker

Turn a casual acquaintance into a deeper connection with these questions:

  • What project has been keeping you excited at work lately?

  • Seen any good movies or read any interesting books recently?

  • What small thing at work makes your day better?

  • Have you noticed any changes at work since you started?

4. Talking to Senior Managers or a Potential Mentor

Show curiosity and respect with these questions, perfect for a senior colleague:

  • Looking back, what are you most proud of in your career?

  • What do you like to do outside of work that might surprise me?

  • What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

  • Where do you see our industry heading in the next few years?

5. Networking with Someone from Another Department

Build bridges across departments with these insightful questions:

  • What’s a misconception people often have about your work?

  • What do you like to do for fun outside the office?

  • What challenge does your department face that others might not know about?

  • How could our departments work together more effectively?

6. Connecting with a Colleague from a Different Location

Understand different perspectives with these questions:

  • What’s distinctive about working at your location?

  • How do you manage the work-life balance, especially with time zone differences?

  • What places should I visit if I come to your location for work?

  • What’s a universal work challenge we all face, in your opinion?

7. Engaging with a New Employee

Make new hires feel welcomed with these friendly questions:

  • What were your first impressions of our company culture?

  • What are you most looking forward to in your role here?

  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

  • Have you encountered any challenges that I might help you with?

8. If You’re the New Person

Help yourself settle in with these questions:

  • What’s one office tradition here that I shouldn’t miss?

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?

  • Who else should I meet in the company?

  • How do people usually spend their breaks around here?

9. Everyday Networking Questions

For any situation, these straightforward questions can spark conversation:

  • What’s the highlight of your week been so far?

  • Have you faced any tough challenges recently?

  • Who is the one person in the organisation that makes a big difference to your job?

  • How do you like to unwind after a busy period at work?

Next Steps

Effective coffee chats are about more than just the questions – they’re about listening actively and engaging genuinely. Remember, the goal is not to interrogate but to converse and connect. Keep personal boundaries in mind and let the discussion flow naturally, creating comfortable spaces for meaningful exchanges.

Ready to take your networking to the next level? Start by applying these questions in your next coffee chat and observe how simple conversations can lead to substantial connections. Here's a quick tip for networking: Know someone that could benefit from this? Share something that's useful to them, like this post. Happy networking!

Tips from an ex-FBI agent on how to build Rapport

Additional Note

For deeper insights into forming quick and meaningful connections, consider exploring techniques from popular psychology articles, such as those discussed in Time Magazine about rapid relationship building. Just remember, while it’s great to get to know someone quickly, respecting personal boundaries is key to a positive interaction.

Sources and Additional Resources


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