When you have gone through the trouble of finding the important contact, setting up the informational interview and preparing to meet the person that may very well be a critical person in your network, there are a few things that MUST happen in the meeting to make it truly worth everyone’s time. Here are the critical communications that need to happen during the course of that meeting:
1) I know what I want to pursue and I can clearly communicate it. An informational interview is not a career counseling session. The networking contact may offer you suggestions or give their opinion about your path or plan, but you should enter this meeting being able to clearly articulate your path and interests in a simple, coherent, clear fashion. If you need help with this, seek the advice of a career counselor to work on this process. Now, you may have a couple avenues that you want to pursue, you need to be clear about who the networking contact is, what he/she does and how they may be of help to you so that your communications about your plans make sense to how they may assist you.
2) I am interested in building a long lasting professional relationship with you, which includes learning more about you and your career path and considering ways in which I may be of help to you. Networking is always a two-way street and you need to approach it as such. If you are always approaching someone with “I need,” “Can you help me with,” “Could you please,” etc., your networking contacts are going to become burned out and eventually tire of helping someone who they feel is only out for themselves. So, make sure you learn how to build solid reciprocal professional relationships.
3) Do you know anyone else I can speak with? You want to communicate a genuine interest in building a substantial network of professionals from a variety of experiences within the field. This is a great way to expand your network in a meaningful way.
An informational interview is a very critical part of the job search process, but the meeting in and of itself is not what is important. What is important is that you are clear about who you are and that you approach the meeting as a person who is interested in and passionate about the field you’re in or planning to pursue and wants to build with others within that field.
Author Lisa Orbe-Austin