What Answers Are You Looking for?
When you are at the point where you are ready to reach out to people, you have to know what advice you are looking for. Do you want to know their thoughts on where your industry/occupation is going in the future? Are you interested in the specific challenges a company is facing right now? How to make contact with people inside target companies?
Most people are busy and if they are going to give you their precious time, there has to be something in it for them. WIIFT (What’s in it for them!) Your job is to find out what will motivate them to provide advice. Remember, flattery will get you everywhere.
Much of what will determine your success in securing a meeting, see, I am calling it a meeting, not an informational interview, is based on how you ask for it and what you are asking for.
Start With People You Know
It is best to start off with people you know and get some experience under your belt. Then you can move to referrals or those you don’t know (cold calls).
One way to warm up the coldest of calls is to learn something about the person first. Google them. See if they are on LinkedIn or Twitter. You are hoping you can find them on Twitter because it is so easy to see what they are saying.
- After you’ve watched their tweets for awhile and begin following them. That’s the first time they’ll see your name perhaps. They will know you are following them if they manually accept followers.
- You can send intelligent Tweets, sharing information is what I am talking about.
- Re-tweet their Tweets, more name recognition is going on.
- You could even ask them a question. If they haven’t followed you back, that’s ok, just use the @ sign.
Most people will want to help if they know how they can provide some. It is crucial that you clearly define the help/advice you are looking for and hopefully why.
I am not suggesting that you don’t ask for these informational interviews. I am urging you to call them something else.