Every wonder how you can start to build a network in a new field or when you are just starting out? Informational interviews. Granted, this is a tactic that is best used by the younger job seekers but really, anyone can do it. Think of it as the “let’s be friends” of the dating world.
Informational interviews are where you ask someone in a field you want to work in for 10-20 minutes of their time for you to ask them a few questions about what they do, how they got there and where they are going. Most people will say yes if you ask in a generally nice way. You may have to buy them coffee but in general, people love talking about themselves.
The best way is through an introduction. Start with an email, something like: “I was referred to you by our mutual acquaintance, Billy Bob Baker. I am pursuing a career in … and if you have 10-20 minutes to spare I would like to learn what has made you successful in your field.” This appeals to their ego, you tell them how you got their info and you are setting a time limit.
Here are some good questions to ask but keep in mind, you want to value their time.
- What made you decide to get into (field of work or profession they are in)
- What did you do before this / how did you get here?
- What do you like most/least about it?
- What are the educational and/or certifications necessary for the position?
- What would you have done differently?
There are a ton more. But I always suggest you end with something like this… “Thank you so much for your time. One last thing, would you mind giving me your feedback on my resume when you have a chance?” Why do you think I suggest this? It has several functions…
- It gets your resume in front of them.
- You get feedback from someone in the field you want to be in.
- This is the perfect reason to follow back up with them.
After you make some of the changes to your resume, remember that your resume is your own and there is not ONE right way to do one, you can send them another copy with a thank you email. Then add them to your network. More on networking to come.
What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.