You’ve read that networking is critical to your career and job search success and that information interviews are a valuable way to build your network. So take a deep breath and commit to starting the process. It is not as scary as you may think.
- Identify and prioritize companies on your target list. Be sure to identify companies of different sizes in your target industries.
- Identify contacts in each of those companies using LinkedIn, your alumni networks, etc.
- Reach out to introduce yourself either by phone or email. If you are an alum of the same school mention that. If you share a common friend or connection, refer to that. If you are a student, let them know. Express your strong interest in learning about their career and their current role with the company. Ask for 20 – 30 minutes for an informational interview.
- Wait three days, if there is no response, reach out again. If still no response, give it one more try a week later. If you reach out three times with no response, stop pursuing this contact and more to another.
- Agree on a date, time and location for your meeting or telephone call.
- Do you research in advance so you have background on the company and the individual. Prepare questions in advance.
- During the meeting take notes. It demonstrates interest and provides valuable reference material for your search.
- Be sure ask the contact who else they think you should talk to in order to learn more about your areas of interest in the company.
- Always say thank you at the end of the meeting and send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.
- Keep the person updated on your progress. If you have a successful meeting with someone the recommended, say thank you again.
You will learn a great deal about your target companies, how they hire, what competencies they value and what work is like in the functional area of interest to you. Later when you see a position posted at one of the target companies, ask your contact to forward your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. While this does not replace the need to apply online, it greatly increases the likelihood that someone will look at your resume. Informational interviews are a great investment in your career so get started today.