Networking, Outreach and Coffee Chats


Networking is another word for building relationships. When you’re networking, you’re actively getting to know someone and they’re getting to know you. As you get to know each other, you’re finding ways to mutually benefit each other, which is something you do in all relationships. For example, mutual benefits in friendships often revolve around support, common interests, and social interaction.

It’s important to recognize what you could gain through networking interactions while at Turing – these might include support and advice as well as reconnecting with those in your existing network. Every relationship has a giving and receiving quality to it, and networking is a little more blatant about it. While you’re receiving support and advice, you can benefit the relationship by spending time really getting to know the other person and their goals so that you can return the favor at a later time.

Assessing Your Comfort Level in Networking

It can also be helpful to understand what types of interactions energize you and what drain you. Often we think that introverts are shy and extroverts are outgoing. But in reality, everyone exists on the spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and our place on that spectrum can change depending on our current circumstances.

There are many ways to connect with people in networking situations. Which interactions listed here would energize you and which would drain you?

  • Online communication
  • Meeting people in person
  • 1:1 interactions
  • Casual group conversations
  • Seeking people out on your own
  • Getting introduced by someone else (an event buddy)

Once you are able to identify what energizes you, lean into it! Find ways to capitalize on this energy. Here are some examples:

Example #1: Networking through social media

If you feel energized by engaging in social networking over Twitter or LinkedIn, here are some tips to maximize the impact of the interactions:

  • Build a robust profile to allow others to get to know you. Note: here are some resources for personal branding.
  • Seek out people who share your interests. Interested in artificial intelligence? Block chain? Diversity, equity, and inclusion in tech? Find your people. Check out hashtags, influential people or companies in your field, and other current conversation threads to join in.
  • Don’t leave one-off comments or “likes.” Take time to engage in conversation, listen to others, share helpful resources – just like you would in any conversation.

Example #2: Networking at organized events

If you feel energized by meeting new people with shared interests at an event that brings you together, here are some tips to maximize the impact of the interactions:

  • Circulate the room. Make sure you don’t only talk to people you already know. Find people you haven’t met yet and introduce yourself.
  • Share your story. Having a concise pitch to describe who you are and what your goals are in this new career will be a helpful way to connect with others right away.
  • Ask questions and practice active listening. When you are able to get someone talking about something they are excited about, it can lead to deeper connections.
  • Follow up. Make sure to get contact information to have another conversation and reference what you talked about when you met.

Even though you’ll lean into your comfort zone, you can also prepare for what to do when you leave them. If you were to engage in a networking activity that drains you, how could you recover? Take time to plan an activity beforehand and afterwards that works with your energy. If you’re an introvert, this might mean preparing for a large group networking event by having some alone time before and after the event, such as reading a book or taking a walk. Taking the time to prepare for this energy drain will help you be more fully yourself in the activity.

Types of Outreach

When you think about outreach, you can think about both warm and cold outreach.

In short, warm outreach means reaching out to people who are already in your community and include people you know personally. Warm outreach includes:

  • Friends & family
  • Classmates & instructors (previous and current)
  • Your mentor
  • Alumni
  • Student circles
  • Guest Speakers
  • Employer Partners who participate in activities at Turing

Cold outreach refers to reaching out people in the software industry who you haven’t met yet.

As for Mod 2, we typically advise that students start with warm connections as it is generally easier to connect with those folks and it is great practice for tackling cold outreach. If you are feeling ambitious and would like to connect with a cold contact, please feel free to do so!

Networking looks like:

  • Coffee chats/informational interviews
    • Most common form of networking
  • Online engagement (i.e. commenting/posting, OpenSource contributions)
    • Read these tips on Twitter engagement from alumni
  • Events/Meetups (follow your interests!)
  • Student circles
  • Jobs shadow

Create Networking Goals

It’s important to remember while comfort zones are nice, you can’t make progress in your professional development if you stay in them. How to move forward without trying something that is too out-of-the-box for you? Create a compromise that allows you to strategically use your comfort zone and take a step outside of it.

Here are some examples:

Example 1

If you appreciate 1:1 time but wouldn’t normally reach out to someone you don’t know, try:

  • LunchClub, which is a social networking platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect users with common interests and objectives.

Example 2

If you appreciate larger groups but haven’t connected with people in the tech industry yet, try:

Suggested Goal: Meet Someone New at Turing

Whether you join a student circle or the #lets_grab_donuts channel on Slack, commit to meeting someone new within the Turing community. The #lets_grab_donuts channel will automatically set you up with a partner, so you don’t need to send a message to connect. For anyone else though, here are some suggested steps for reaching out:

  • Send a message to this person. If you don’t know them personally, take the time to introduce yourself and explain very clearly both what you want to talk to them about and why you specifically want to talk to them about this (as opposed to someone else). Why are they the right person for your questions? Provide them with a couple of options for times to talk.
  • Come up with some questions to ask them during the call. It can be helpful to send them the questions ahead of time so they can prepare for the conversation.
  • Decide on one takeaway from the conversation that you can follow up on. This might mean doing a little research into something they mention or asking for an introduction to someone from their network.

Depending on who you meet with, your questions may look different, but regardless, focus on asking questions that help you get to know each other:

  • What brought you to Turing?
  • What do you appreciate about the Turing community?
  • What advice do you have/what has been helpful for you in managing Turing life?
  • What are you working on that you are excited about?
  • What are y ou excited about contributing to in the tech industry?
  • What do you like to do in your free time outside of programming/work?

Suggested Goal: Network with a Contact You Already Know Outside of Turing

Reach out to a contact from your existing network and ask to set up a call to discuss career advice. Who would be an ideal person for you to reach out? Consider reaching out to someone you don’t talk to day-to-day. It would be beneficial to reach out to your “weak ties” or “dormant ties” aka people whose knowledge and networks will be relatively new to you! These are people you may have worked with previously, people you know through friends/family/co-workers, or simply people you haven’t connected with in a while. They may or may not have a direct connection to the tech industry, but they may know someone who is in the tech industry or at a company you’re interested in or they may have professional advice that will be helpful for you. Take the following steps to reach out:

  • Send a message to this person and explain why you’d like to connect. Why are they the right person for your questions? Provide them with a couple of options for times to talk.
  • Come up with some questions to ask them during the call. It can be helpful to send them the questions ahead of time so they can prepare for the conversation.
  • Decide on one takeaway from the conversation that you can follow up on. This might mean doing a little research into something they mention or asking for an introduction to someone from their network.

Depending on who you choose to reach out to, your questions will look different. Here are some suggested prompts to get you started:

  • Tell me about your background. How did you get to where you are now?
  • What does your company do? How does your role contribute to that?
  • What is the number one piece of advice you have for someone like me who is changing careers/starting something new?
  • I’m not sure what industry/companies I’m interested in. Do you have any advice on how I could start to figure that out?
  • I know I’m interested in ____ kind of work. Do you have any advice on how I could learn more about that?
  • How did you figure out where you wanted to start with your first job? How has that influenced your career?
  • Is there anyone you would recommend I talk to at your company or in the tech industry at large? Would you be able to make an introduction for me?


As you get started with networking at Turing, here are a couple of frequently asked questions and answers that might be helpful:

  • What constitutes networking? Do I have to talk to someone in person/on a call? Networking is building a relationship. To do that, it involves having a conversation. The way that conversation takes place – on a call, through email or Slack messages, DMs on Twitter – is entirely up to you.
  • How do I go about contacting someone if I don’t have their email? There are several sites listed here that can help you find people’s email addresses.
  • Is this the only networking activity we’ll be doing? No, we’ll be exploring networking from multiple different angles and discuss how to approach it for both general research and for job applications. This activity is meant to get you started!

Networking Deliverable

  • Build a list of 4 warm contacts (people to get to know better)
  • Outline 1 Action step to take for networking during the mod (ex: attend an event, have a chat with someone, etc.)
  • Keep track of this list and action steps using a networking tracker.

Coffee Chats

What is a Coffee Chat?

A coffee chat, also commonly referred to as an informational interview, is a casual and informative conversation between two individuals, usually in a relaxed setting like a coffee shop or over zoom and lasting roughly 30 minutes. The main goal of a coffee chat is for one person, often referred to as the “interviewer,” to gather insights, advice, and information from the other person, known as the “interviewee,” about their job or career.

You will be the “interviewer” in your coffee chat, and you will be interviewing professional software developers about their day-to-day work and career.

With your partner, brainstorm why a coffee chat might be useful for you and where you are in your software development career.

Some Benefits of Coffee Chats

Real-world Context: Coffee chats help bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge gained in class and real-world applications. Interviewees will share real world examples that illustrate how coding skills are used in actual projects and workflows.

Networking: Engaging in coffee chats allows you to expand your professional network. Building connections with experienced professionals can lead to mentorship opportunities, potential job referrals, and a broader understanding of the industry landscape. But it’s key to note, the tone of the coffee chat should not be job seeking, even though there is a fair chance it might help lead to a job.

Interview Preparation: While you are not the one interviewed in this context, coffee chats still develop your comfort level talking with an unknown professional and help the actual interviews feel less scary.

Let’s do a slack waterfall. Right now, how nervous are you feeling about having a coffee chat?

From 1(Not nervous at all, only excited) to 10(Incredibly nervous, this is the most stressful class activity I can imagine).

❓What questions or fears do you have about having a coffee chat?


Finding an Interviewee

The first step to having a coffee chat is to find someone to chat with.

There are many places to look!

  1. Current Connection who Works as a Developer: Maybe there is a “loose tie” or someone you’re not close with, such as a high school acquaintance or past coworker who you could reach out to. Or, if you already talk to a developer regularly, such as if they are a sibling, you could ask them to introduce you to someone they know.

  2. Someone You Share Something in Common With: LinkedIn is excellent for finding folks you have something in common with. Maybe you both went to Turing or a coding school in general, or you both worked at the same library, or live in the same city, or you can see from LinkedIn you share a connection, or if you attended college you can look for fellow alumni.

  3. Cold Outreach: You’d be shocked how often strangers are happy to chat if you demonstrate your genuine interest in speaking with them in particular. You can think about your dream company or industry and find someone who works there on LinkedIn.

  4. Networking Events: Most cities have in-person tech meetups and those can be great places to meet developers and ask them if they would chat with you. You can also look into online networking options.

Does the person you reach out to need to work in C# or .NET? No, you can still gain a lot of value from talking with any developer. However, if you do find someone working in C# or .NET I would definitely reach out to them. That chat has a higher likelihood of leading to a future job offer.

Asking for a Coffee Chat

So you’ve found someone you want to interview, how do you go about making the ask?

I’m a big fan of the message structure introduced in the Muse article How to Ask for an Informational Interview (and Get a “Yes”) and making your message as personal as possible.

  1. Start by Asking for Help: It’s a proven fact that people love to feel like they are helping others. So, if you literally start by saying, “I’d love your help,” or “I hope you’ll be able to help me out…” your chances of getting a positive response go up significantly.

  2. Be Clear: Ask for something very specific, and make it as easy as possible for the person to say yes. Saying, “I’d love to know more about what you do and how you got your start” is okay, but doesn’t tell someone how much of their time you’re after or what you’re really suggesting. Instead, try something like, “Would you be available for a 20-30 minute zoom coffee chat to share your experiences working as a developer at company name here and any advice you may have?”

  3. Have a Hook: A great way to increase your chance of landing the interview is to demonstrate why you really want to meet with this person. Do you admire their career path? Do you think the work they’re currently doing at company X stands out as the best? Maybe you have a shared connection and think they would be a great voice of wisdom. Don’t be afraid to share why you are specifically reaching out to this person. The more personalized your ask feels, the greater chance of success you’ll have.

  4. Introduce Yourself: This is similar to having a hook, the person is much more likely to say yes to chatting if they know who you are! A one sentance bio is all it takes and be sure to mention anything you and the potential interviewee have in common.

  5. Be Very Considerate: Remember that, in asking for an informational interview, you’re literally asking someone to put their work on hold to help you. Show your contact you understand this by saying, “I can only imagine how busy you must get, so even 15-20 minutes would be so appreciated.”

  6. Make Sure You Don’t Seem Like You’re Looking for a Job (Even if You Are): If you sound like you’re really just looking for a job, there’s a good chance this person will push you to HR or the company’s career page. So be sure to make it clear that you really want to talk to them, to learn about their career history and perspective on the job or industry. After you meet and make a great impression is when you can mention the job hunt.

Ideally, you are able to get the person’s email from their LinkedIn profile or another means. You can also put your message in a connection request on LinkedIn as long as it’s under 300 characters.

It’s tough to condense all five points to 300 characters, but something similar to the following should work:

Hi Zoe!

I am currently a student at Turing, halfway through the Launch course. I see you also attended Turing and are working in Ruby on Rails! Would you be up for a 30-minute coffee chat to help me learn what it's like to work as a developer at Orchard? I would so appreciate it!

Scheduling a Coffee Chat

You’ve found someone who is happy to chat with you, congrats! Now you need to find a time. I recommend starting by asking something simmilar to “What are some times in the next week that you are free for a 30 minute video chat?”. Make sure you two clarify timezones! If you are going to meet in person you can also ask if they have a coffee shop near them that they prefer, but most likely you will be meeting online.

Once you agree on a time, your interviewee may offer to create a video chat link. If they do not, a good option is to create a google calendar event with Google Meet. Zoom is also free for meetings under 40 minutes.

Researching the Person and Their Company

You want to show up as a prepared interviewer and that means researching a bit about the company and your interviewee.

As the muse article 5 Tips for Non-Awkward Informational Interviews suggests: “Jot down a few key facts about the industry and her current or previous employer, see if you can find any articles she’s written or interviews she’s done, and try to find a few similarities between the two of you. If you’re well prepared, your interviewee will not only be impressed with the legwork you’ve put into the meeting, but will be flattered you took the time to learn so much about her. And that’s always a great way to start a conversation.”

Preparing Your Questions

Since you are the interviewer, you want to be prepared with a list of thoughtful questions.

Remember your goal: To gather insights, advice, and information from the other person about their job or career, and to come across as someone they would want to work with.

With your partner: Brainstorm/Research potential questions you might ask. When we come back together your instructor will call on each group to share.

Example Questions

  • At Turing we do a lot of peer code review and it has been incredibly valuable, what does the code review process look like on your team?
  • Technical capabilities aside, what soft skills do you see as important to be a great developer?
  • What’s your typical day or week like?
  • What is your favorite part about your job?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
  • What advice would you give to someone in my position just starting out as a developer?
  • Can you walk me through your development process, from a ticket or task to code on production?
  • Do you usually only work with other developers or are there folks in other roles you work with regularly?

Questions Specific to Your Interviewee

  • What’s it like working for a company in the ___ industry?
  • I see that you’ve worked at a both the small company ___ and the much larger company _____ I’d love to hear more about how those two roles were different.
  • How did you choose to work at ______?

Follow Up Questions

  • You mentioned _____ can you say more about that?
  • You mentioned _____ what does that mean?
  • To make sure I’m following, is what you’re saying _____?

Questions that start with “How” and “What” are great in general and will lead to better answers than yes/no questions.


Starting the Conversation

Often times the start of a conversation can be the most awkward and it’s nice to prepare and practice what you might say to kick off a conversation.

Here’s what I like to start with:

  • Thank them for meeting with you
  • Say a couple of sentences about you and why you are excited to chat with them (keep this short!)
  • Pivot to the other person and ask an open-ended question that gets them talking

Here is one example, but definitely make it your own!

“Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! I’m currently 5 months into the Turing Launch program and I’m loving it and I’ve grown so much as a developer, but from class time alone it’s hard to get a picture of what it’s really like to work on a development team and I know each team is unique. So I’m eager to learn more about what your day-to-day is like and any advice you have for a budding developer like me. I see on your LinkedIn that you worked at <enter company here> then transitioned to <enter company here>, could you share more about how you came to work at <enter company here> and your journey as a developer so far?”

Taking Notes

It’s recommended to have a notebook open and take notes of key takeaways.

Watching the Time

When you have about 5 minutes left before your meeting is scheduled to end, casually mention that you want to be “mindful of their time” and note the time you have left. This gives your interviewee the opportunity to either extend the interview, or transition to a graceful conclusion. Either way, they’ll appreciate your respect for their time and your professionalism, which is a great way to conclude an interview.


Sending a Thank You Message

As the above Muse article shares, “Always send a thank you note. Always. Your interviewee should never wonder how much you appreciated the time she took to share her hard-earned knowledge with you. Remember, you never know what doors she could open for you one day.” The more personalized your message the better. It’s best to include some detail from your coffee chat that you found particularly impactful.

Coffee Chat Deliverable

Over the next 3.5 weeks, you all will be reaching out to someone to schedule a coffee chat! We will follow the schedule below, and I’ll be starting a slack channel specifically for us to discuss these chats!

  1. By EOD Monday Week3:
    • Determine who you will reach out to. A good place to start is the mentors in your house channel! (if you need help remembering your house, just let an instructor know!)
    • Draft your initial outreach message to that person - DON’T SEND IT YET.
    • ✅ Post a message in the Slack channel with who you are reaching out to, AND your initial outreach message draft. An instructor will provide feedback and give you the go-ahead to make the initial outreach.
  2. By EOD Monday Week4:
    • Have a coffee chat scheduled!
    • ✅ Post in your slack channel thread the date/time of your chat.
    • ✅ Post in your slack channel a list of questions that you have prepared for your chat.
  3. By EOD Tuesday Week6
    • After your coffee chat, reflect on the following questions:
    • What question that you asked led to the most valuable response? What was the question and what did your interviewee say?
    • What do you want to do similarly in your next coffee chat?
    • What do you want to do differently in your next coffee chat? * ✅ Post your reflections in your slack channel thread. * ✅ Post in your slack channel the thank you note that you sent as a followup to your coffee chat.

If you need help with any of these steps, reach out in the slack channel! Instructors will be happy to help with:

  • finding someone to reach out to
  • crafting an initial message
  • coming up with questions for the chat