So far it seems that about 90% of people do NOT want to meet for coffee. Instead they just want me to ask questions over email which is more efficient but less effective in getting relevant contacts and opportunities.
A few thoughts:
0) Awesome you are putting yourself out there and going for it. You are already far ahead of your peers by reaching out to people in your industry. Also! The fact that you are getting any response at all is huge. Imagine getting no responses at all, let alone them answering your questions. Keep it up!
1) Are you the people you are reaching out to “warm contacts”?
By that I mean is there someone you know who knows them? If not you may want to try to start with people you already know. In my experience people are more likely to meet with someone who’s recommended them/introduced them. Idea: who would be friendly to your cause? A teacher who can intro you? A friend? Someone in your current job? Family? Start your network with people who know and like you and let it grow from there. In my experience it was slow going at first but really ramped up as you keep at it and meet 5-10 times with different people.
2) What level of experience are you targeting for coffees?
1-2 yrs experience engineers? 5-10? 30-40 years? I have found that targeting people your own age yields worse results, but people just a little ahead of you in their career are more likely. People much older are harder unless you get referred.
3) What kind of engineers?
I get the feeling there are two kinds: people-liking-engineers and non-people-liking-engineers. I am generalizing but I think this is true. Some people are intimidated by going to coffee with someone new and some aren’t. If you can (and this is tricky) figure out who is more likely to say Yes. A way you may be able do this by looking at people’s job descriptions, profile pictures etc on Linkedin. Are they smiling? Is there job description technical or more product focused. I know I am generalizing but I think you know what I mean.