Q: When I take someone out for coffee to network, how can I avoid that awkward moment when I finally steer the conversation to my job search?
A: Although I always say you don’t need to take people out to network–that you can save both parties the time and save yourself the expense by “networking from your chair” via email and telephone calls–I do have an answer to your question. How about when you first sit down with your coffee, you say something like “I know how busy you are, so let me cut to the chase.” That way, as you launch right into the subject of your search, you avoid waiting for that awkward moment altogether.
Try that and see how it works. I think you’ll enjoy the conversation and your coffee a lot more and be motivated to continue networking–in person and by phone or computer.