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How To Network: 5 Steps to an Informational Interview

Since I embarked on the 4 X 4 Networking Challenge (read about the networking barriers I faced and my January update here), I have had to request informational interviews from people I don’t know.  I did some research to prepare for the interviews and thought I would share it with you.  What I like best about informational interviews is that the pressure is totally off.  You aren’t applying for a job and they aren’t hiring you so it allows you to relax and really learn from the person whose job you are interested in.

How To Network: 5 Steps to an Informational Interview

I can’t tell you enough how important these interviews are.  It is so much better to learn if you like a certain profession before going into it and this is a great way to do it.  Informational interviews can also help you get your foot in the door for a future job.  The company may not have openings right now but if you make a good impression, they will surely think of you when an opening becomes available.  Here are my 5 easy tips to get and nail an informational interview:

  1. Do your research: Learn as much as you can about the person you are interviewing and their company.  This will help you be prepared with great questions to ask.  Be prepared with questions before your interview such as: What is your typical day like?  What do you like most about your job?  How did you get your job?  How is the economy affecting your industry?  What is your advice to someone interested in this field?  Write them down and have them ready to go in case you forget or get nervous during the interview.
  2. Never forget to follow up with a thank you email or letter!  People so often forget this so if you send a hand written letter or a very nice email, you will surely stand out and not be forgotten!
  3. Never give out your resume: I am not making this up!  This advice came from my career counselor and it was really hard for me to believe too.  She said that if you provide a hard copy of your resume, it will most likely get thrown in the trash.  Instead, send your resume right after the meeting which will give you a chance to make last minute updates with information that you learned during the interview.
  4. Always ask who else they know that you can talk to: If you are doing the 4 X 4 Networking Challenge with me, you know that you must always be looking for that next person to meet!  Try not to leave a meeting without another contact.
  5. Send a professional informational interview request letter or email: Remember first impressions count!!  Here is a easy, sample email that you can use, just fill in the question marks with what is relevant to you!

___________________________________________________________________________
Dear ??

I am currently a MBA student at the Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego.  My career counselor at the Rady School suggested I contact you to conduct an informational interview.

My passion and desire is to become a ??? and your background and experience will be invaluable to me as I pursue my career.  At your convenience, I would like to schedule a 15 minute informational meeting with you. The purpose of the meeting is to gather additional information that will better assist me with my career decisions.  Thank you for considering my request.

___________________________________________________________________________

So what are you waiting for?  Go send an email and set up an informational interview!  Then come back and tell me how it went!  Good luck!!
(Photo from The Devil Wears Prada movie – now that would be a scary informational interview 🙂

Hi, I'm Anna!

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