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I received an email from the founder of a tech startup about meeting for coffee and discussing some openings at his company. He is experienced, the company sounds interesting, but I am 99% certain that I won't leave my job situation at this time. I would like to meet him, however, because I'd like to exercise my networking and interviewing skills.

I am currently working as a freelance software contractor, and I run a small software company with a business partner. I am planning to spend at least another ~6 months building my small business before considering a job change. I would be open, however, to working on a part-time or contract basis, without committing to a full-time permanent position.

Should I mention to this startup founder that I am not interested in a job, or only interested in contract work? How far should I go with the interview? Should I give him a resume at the meeting?

I am curious to apply just to see the offer I would get (if any), and to improve my interviewing/networking skills. But I don't want to waste his time or burn bridges.

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As you interested and might consider working with him now or in few months, I would advice you to meet with him and discuss your situation during the coffee meeting, being perfectly honest with your current situation and your expectations.

As a freelancer it is really important that you develop you network, moreover if you might consider changing job in a few months.

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You can reply to his email and tell him what you said here. Something like

Thanks for reaching out. The company and position you describe sound interesting. However, I cannot commit to a full-time position. I'm open to working part-time or on a contract basis. If this is something you are interested in exploring let me know.

This way you don't waste his time (or yours) and no bridges are burned.

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    (+1) Perfect. That is the exact message I write in the above scenario :) – Dawny33 Apr 30 '16 at 10:30
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    And you should consider that the founder is also interested in who you might know that would be interested in working for them. That is a part of networking as well, being a broader benefit to your network as well as theirs. – Jon Custer May 2 '16 at 14:18
  • Yes, that is a good point. – jcm May 2 '16 at 14:28
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If you say No upfront , he will either cancel it or cut it short. You want to be diplomatic and tactful. Let him know your skills. If he is impressed , he will press you as to what you are looking for . Be vague e.g Looking for challenges/good salary etc. Always say " I will think it over and get back to you" if pressed against the wall. Never commit. You can ask him as to what his co offers for a guy of your experience ( general ballpark) and say it can help you in making decisions.

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