If you haven’t read my previous posts about Networking, click on NETWORKING in the Categories section to your right.
This is Part II of my post on Informational Interviewing. Read Part I to learn about this networking strategy.
How to get started with your Informational Interviews…
It is usually easiest to start with close contacts. Think about your network. Can anyone you know potentially put you in touch with someone who could provide useful information? Certainly consider using a service such as linkedin.com, which allows you to see the names of your contacts’ links and request introductions, but don’t forget your neighbors, relatives, colleagues and friends. Touch base with them to ask for suggestions of people to meet in a field you are pursuing.
Once you have a list of one or two contacts, e-mail asking for a meeting. Be sure to mention the name of the person who suggested you contact them. State that you would like to meet for coffee to ask for advice and information concerning their field or organization. Emphasize that you are seeking information, not a specific opportunity. (If you do this when you are employed, you have more credibility). In your e-mail, indicate that you will follow-up by calling them, and then do it!
You may be surprised, but most people will be willing to meet with you or speak on the phone. If, when you call, they refuse, ask if they can suggest someone else to meet so you do not lose the opportunity altogether.
Confirm your appointment and meeting place a day or two in advance. Arrive early and be prepared. Unlike a real interview, it is okay to have a list of questions. Use a professional writing tablet and pen. As a formality, ask if it is okay to take notes.
- Have questions to ask and things to tell about yourself.
- Know your resume and skills and accomplishments backwards and forwards.
- Dress and act professionally.
- Research – know what you need to know and what you do know! Don’t waste your time and theirs asking about topics that are clearly spelled out on their website, for example.
- Bring your resume, and when the time seems right, offer it to ask for their insights and feedback.
Silences: refer to list of open-ended questions.
Lengthy answers – If you are benefiting from information, let them continue. If it isn’t relevant, or they seem to be rambling on, refocus the interview by stating that you don’t want to take too much of their time and ask a different question.
- Always send a thank you note right away.
- Always ask if they can suggest another contact.
- Always ask if you can keep in touch and what is the best way.
- Keep track and follow up with your network. If Sue suggested you speak to Bob, and Bob winds up hiring you, make sure that Sue hears from you before Bob mentions it to her! You don’t want anyone to feel that you “used” them – by following up and being appreciative, you’ll garner good will.
- Organize your network and touch base regularly – once or twice a year. A holiday or new year card is one great way to be in touch. Forwarding information or a topical article occasionally to members of your network who might be interested is another great way to remind them about you and your interest.
Work your net! It’s the best way to find an opportunity!
We advise, encourage and enlighten job seekers!