Heard on the Hill

Staffer Guide: Getting Coffee Dos and Don’ts

Meetings over caffeine are a big part of Capitol Hill culture

CQ Roll Call file photo.

Coffees are a huge part of networking on Capitol Hill. You want to meet someone new? Get coffee. You want someone to help you apply for a new job? Get coffee.Don’t be afraid to ask someone to grab a cup of joe with you to benefit your career. But, if you’re the initiator, here are some dos and don’ts.

Do

  • Be flexible with timing and if the meeting is canceled, reschedule. Once you get there, offer to buy.
  • Do research, come prepared, and have questions. Know what you personally want from the meeting and research the individual you’re meeting with. People on the Hill are very busy, so have a specific reason you want to meet and let it be known.
  • Follow up with a note, even if it’s just an email, thanking them for their time. 

Don’t

  • Show disinterest — by not taking notes or simply not being focused and making the other person drive the conversation.
  • Be late — a lot of staffers consider this the worst thing you can do.
  • Take up too much time — you need to know when to end the conversation and how much time to allot for. A tight coffee is 20 minutes and a long one is an hour, so aim for a half-hour to 40 minutes.

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