The Low Down On Informational Interviews

Original Post: The Low Down On Informational Interviews

Having just moved from Southern Florida to New York City, I am setting up several informational interviews to further understand social media and new marketing techniques. Whether you have a job or are searching, informational interviews are a key to success.

Yesterday, I read an informative article in The Examiner written by James Sanford. My learnings were as follows:

1) Do not present a resume or ask for a job in an informational interview. The purpose of your meeting should be to learn a company culture and network in your industry.

2) Arrive to the meeting prepared with thoughtful questions.

3) The informational interview is a relaxed setting to practice your answers to future interview questions (i.e. “tell me about yourself”). You should not feel as if you are in an interview or selling a product; however, this is an excellent opportunity to practice your personal brand story or pitch.

4) Follow-up is critical. Thank each contact for his/her time, information, advice. Thank-you letters should be sent via email; a hard copy should be sent through snail mail.

5) Each manager and/or executive should be updated on any progress in your career.

6) Keep good records of connections made, including dates and follow-up tasks. I personally keep a well organized, ongoing list in an excel file.

As a Generation Y, it is often difficult to know who to contact and what exchange is appropriate. I am signing up for alumni events, industry related associations and specific affairs.

Other personal habits I have acquired while networking are to 1) confirm meeting time and place the day before, 2) follow up with unique, outstanding stationary, 3) get a business card, and 4) remember to small talk. Small talk is an art; often when I am taking myself too seriously, I forget to ask my mentor personal details. Taking note of these personal details on the back of his/her business card is a great technique. Then when I follow up, I can ask about family, vacation, home, etc. Every little detail counts when creating lasting relationships.