Sometimes we take advice literally. I've heard career experts recommend to job seekers that they should line up networking and informational meetings. Yep, I recommend this too. However, what we aren't saying is to call someone and ask "Can I have an informational meeting with you?" or "Can I network with you?" These two questions are akin to "Do you have a job for me?". All these questions are focused on YOUR needs and wants and desires, not the person you are talking to.
When you are asking someone to engage in a conversation you have to be "other focused". You have to THINK before you speak.
Even in these times, when there are thousands of people out there asking for these meetings, there are great reasons why hiring managers and company leaders will want to talk with you. But…you have to give them a good reason to.
Before you ever pick up the phone or approach someone, do your research. You have to know WHY you want to speak with them.
- Are you interested in their personal work history/career path?
- Has their company been in the news for some accomplishment?
- Are they someone who is innovative or a thought leader?
- Is their industry one you have identified as being a target/transition goal?
- Does this person know a lot of other people?
If you don't know why you want to meet them, what will you talk about?
Next, think about the questions you would ask this person. Here is a link to great open-ended questions to get you started.
Now you are ready to ask for a meeting. But what are you going to ask and how? Use a script at first if you'll be calling on the phone. It'll keep you focused and on track. Here are some reminders:
- Be genuine
- Speak with conviction
- Don't talk too much, listen
- Don't assume "I'm busy" to mean "no".
- Be positive
There are thousands of ways to ask for a meeting. Here are just some suggestions:
Hi Sue, this is Hannah. I was just reading about XYZ company in the local newspaper and wanted to congratulate you on your new contract. I am impressed by your company's initiatives. I was hoping you could help me by answering some questions I have about how you utilized lean techniques to make this happen. Additionally, I have a contact at Q Company that might be interested in your product. Could we possibly meet briefly over coffee to discuss how you did this?
Hi Sue, my name is Hannah. I am a training specialist. I wanted to talk with you about how training in the not for profit world is different from training in the for profit world. Do you have some time one morning we might be able to meet for coffee?
Hi Sue. You don't know me, but my name is Hannah. I have been watching your company for a while now and would love to talk with you about how social media is impacting what you are doing. I am using Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook recreationally and have found them to really help promote some events I'm involved with. When might you have time for a brief meeting?
OK, so what you are seeing is that they aren't 100% "other focused" but these lead-ins do make very specific reference to why I want to meet with them. AND I had to do research to make sure that I knew what to ask for. I had to know that XYZ was using lean. I had to know training is different in the for profit world. I had to know the company was using social media.
I learned about what these companies were doing by reading the local papers, trade magazines, industry newsletters and talking with others.
And, oh, by the way, I have written about this before…Informational interviews are networking.
If you have successfully used other introductions or lead-ins to get meetings, please, share them in the comment section below!
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.