Job search requires you to gather information about people, companies and industry trends. So here’s how to ask for an informational meeting.
I was invited to a presentation to a group of talented design students. The purpose of this presentation was to convey the parallels between marketing a product and marketing themselves.
In short, before a product launch, there’s lots of research conducted about the target potential user/buyer. Then this information is used to craft the marketing messaging and methods for reaching the potential user. There’s a lot of thought that goes into all of this.
Job seekers would benefit from using the same strategies to launch themselves during job search and it starts by gathering data- informational meetings.
What Is An Informational Meeting?
An informational meeting is a conversation to learn about a person, their role, the organization and/or the industry.
To learn more about what happens during the meeting read: Networking is a Waste of Time- Or Is It?
Resumes = Junk Mail
I am always dismayed when I hear people focus on the resume and cover letter as a means of creating interest. What is the success rate of sending spam or direct mail? 0-3%.
I think we are assuming that companies with jobs to be filled, are “pre-qualified leads” and I just don’t buy it. Would you rather purchase a car because several friends recommended it for all the reasons that are important to you or because you received a flyer in the mail about it? This is backed up by the lots of data that says 25+% of external hiring happens from referrals.
When you hear people suggest you should make contact with people inside a company, the question inevitably is “HOW?”
How do you meet anyone?
Ways To Meet New People
In this new world we live in, being connected and meeting new people (online and in-person) is critical to your professional survival. Really, it is. Back to my question, how do you meet people inside a company you think you would like to work for?
- You could pick up the phone and just call. Cold calls are scary and require thick skin, but you know, sometimes they work.
- You could ask everyone you know if they know someone who works in that target company.
- You could use LinkedIn to see if you have any contacts or to at least gather some names.
- You could Google the company and see who’s been mentioned lately and reach out and congratulate them.
- You could try and find them on Twitter.
You could do a lot of things.
Your next question is:
How Do I Ask For A Meeting
Though you may be in job search, you are primarily in “information gathering” mode. You need to learn about what the company or department goals are. You want to learn about the culture, you want to know what their problems or concerns are so that you can be a solution.
When you are requesting such a meeting (with companies who are not currently hiring) your request may sound something like:
- “I’ve recently worked on a project creating infographics and would like to talk with you about how your company is using them and where you see this concept heading in the future.”
- “I have been following what your company is doing and am really interested in how you are making strides to better inform and communicate with your customers. Would you have time to meet with me?”
- “I’m completing my degree in Design in the Spring and would really love to learn more about the clients you serve and the services they are requesting.”
All of these requests work best if you could actually drop a name as you introduce yourself.
“I was talking with Spongebob yesterday about my design career and he suggested your name as someone who could offer really valuable advice because of your experience.”
The key to your success is identifying companies in advance of their advertising a position. Once they’ve announced a job, they’ll be overwhelmed with the process and might be less likely to agree to an informational meeting, though it never hurts to try.
Now go back and create a list of 40 or so companies you believe would have a need for the kind of work you do. Begin doing some preliminary research and see who you can find who works there.
While you are at it, why don’t you create a personal marketing plan that demonstrates your strengths and goals! Sample Marketing Plan
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.