An informational interview is a great way to learn more about a job or career path you're interested in. It's also a great way to connect with someone who is already doing that job.
However, if you've never set one up before, you could be confused about how to do it properly.
Your strategy for setting up an informational interview doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, you should keep it simple so that your intentions for the interview are clear.
Here are three simple steps you can take to set up an informational interview.
Identify Strategic People To Interview
Make a list of all of the career paths that interest you. If there are a lot on your list, narrow it down to the top two or three that really get you excited.
Then, identify people in your area or on LinkedIn who work in your selected fields. These should be professionals who work at one of your bucket list companies in your ideal career path.
Send A Personalized Invitation To Connect On LinkedIn
Once you've made your list of people to reach out to, invite each one to connect on LinkedIn using a personalized note.
If you send these people a generic invitation, they'll think you sent an invitation to LOTS of other people. That can make your invitation look like spam.
Also, if you don't add a personalized note to your invitation, you risk these people ignoring you. Think about it: if they don't know who you are, or why you want to connect, they're more likely to brush you aside.
Not sure what to say when connecting with someone on LinkedIn? Just remember to talk about something you two have in common and don't ask for any favors right away. Be curious about their career and the path they took to get to where they are.
In your note, explain that you've never met, but you saw that they worked in your target industry and wanted to reach out to learn more about what they do. Then, simply ask them if they'd be willing to connect.
Go In For The Ask
If someone accepts your invitation, send a follow-up message thanking them for connecting, and tell them you're curious about their industry.
Once you've exchanged a few messages, ask if they are willing to chat more about their work.
They won't always say yes, but it's always worth asking! People generally want to help you out, but people are also busy. It's important to be understanding and respectful of their time.
So, give your contact some options and find out the most convenient time for them. Throw out a few different dates and times. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee, or see if you can set up a quick 15-minute phone or Zoom call.
There are plenty of ways to connect with people to have informational interviews. Figure out what works best for your contact.
Networking plays such a critical role when it comes to landing a job, especially if you're trying to learn more about a career path or company.
In order to be successful, though, you need to be very intentional with your efforts and respectful of a connection's time. The simple strategy above is the best one to use if you're trying to ask for informational interviews.
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