The Hidden Art of Virtual Coffee Chats and What You Can Learn from Talking to One Stranger Per Month

Photo by Hoàng Tuấn on Unsplash

No embarrassment from the other side of the screen

I never got to achieve that ease of talking with strangers until I started my international experience. An international move in the middle of a pandemic taught me the value of building connections. I moved to a country where I don’t know anyone. I had to start making connections from scratch. I had to collaborate better at work. I needed a network to make things happen.

May I have 15 minutes of your time?

If you’re a young professional looking to easily grow your network, take it as a small, tentative step to have a virtual coffee chat with at least one stranger per month. What is the amount of your time investment? At a minimum, you need only between 15 to 30 minutes per month. Your expected returns? Incalculable.

  1. Reach out politely.
  2. Respect people’s time.
  3. Be prepared.
  4. Don’t forget to introduce yourself — briefly.
  5. Ask lots of good questions.
  6. Let the other person talk freely.

The best AHA! moments

Through these tips, I managed to gain insights from people who had more or less similar struggles as mine, from people who have shared experiences, and from people who have different viewpoints on life.

  1. Do not start a side hustle that demands a lot of your time and effort. An accounting firm owner shared her struggles with building up her accounting firm and advised me not to start a side hustle that will incur lots of time and attention. The best side hustles are passive income generators.
  2. If you’re changing careers, make an effort to learn the fundamentals. A young professional who successfully switched from accounting to a different line of work taught me the value of learning skills on the side.
  3. Connect with the right people. An experienced marketer recommended a career guide that helped me gain clarity on some of the things I want from my career.

Make things happen

Talk with people from different walks of life to increase your arsenal of practical knowledge. You don’t always have to follow their advice. You must also discover what’s true for you and what’s not.



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Tin Mariano

Tin Mariano


International work experience, the expat life, and everything in between