EP 826 A few ideas about how to use informational interviews more effectively
I wanted to talk with you about informational interviews today. I know you know the part that they are not about asking for jobs. However, they are about building relationships and I want to start with you about a few simple approaches to them.
1. If you're going to be reaching out to someone to ask them to introduce you to someone on LinkedIn, for example, give them an idea of the questions that you want to be asking this person. For example, someone emails or messages me and says, "Would you introduce me to so-and-so. I would like to pick their brain about something." I know if that's can be a worthwhile use of someone's time, but if you say to me, "I would like to talk to them about (not finding me a job) have their field is developing, how they got to their firm, where they see trends are, "stuff along those lines that does not appear to be an abusive use of someone's time, I'm very happy to provide an introduction. I can forward those questions to this person at the time that I reach out to them. I think on LinkedIn, in particular, but it the works outside of LinkedIn in the off-line world is well.
2. After you meet with someone, instead of an email thank you note, take the time to actually write a thank you note... Hand write it (assuming your handwriting is good, of course. If it isn't, be careful with your writing in order to ensure that you understood.). The hand written quality to this is a nice touch.. I don't believe in doing this after real interview because time is of the essence and you don't have time to mail it before they make a decision. Since you're not applying for a job, per se, what you're doing is picking someone's brain and opening dialogue with them that, hopefully over time will help you develop a relationship where they feel comfortable referring you, where they may feel comfortable hiring you or talking with you about being hired, it is a relationship building tool. Time is not of the essence and thus, I hand written card is a nicer touch.
3. Sometimes when you are in an informational interview, you want to create the circumstances for reciprocity. I think this is a big strategy that people neglect because they think that everything is all about ME. . What I need what I need. They forget to say things like, "Is there anything I can be helping you with? I don't know if you see my background or not, but this is what I do." It opens up the possibility where they pick your brain for ideas.
4. Here's a fun technique. If there is something that you are asked about that you don't really know, instead of just simply saying, "That's not my turf. I don't really know." Circle back after you've done the research, after you have taken the time to think, let this person know what you've researched and found out for them. Give them something back, even if you take more time than they did. Why? Do you think it's impressive, especially if the quality of what you've done is good? Do you think you create an impression? That's what you're trying to do in all of this is to create an impression with someone AND receive information. It's a two-way street here and you want to take advantage of the opportunity. Even if their 1st question, or their 5th question is one that you don't know, go back to them afterwards, do the homework,, find out, dig deep, put in the effort. Give it back to them and say, "I was thinking about our conversation and I know I came up blank on your questions about such and such. I did all bit of homework and this is what I found."
You can also do this on a real job interview, but normally it is not enough to get over the hump and be brought back into consideration. Informational interviews, since you're not being evaluated for a job, you create the impression of tenacity and perseverance and effort which s few people demonstrate these days.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”
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