Informational interviews are vital to forming professional connections outside your office and personal circle. It’s not enough to submit job applications. Unless you know someone at the company, it is unlikely that anyone is looking at your resume.
As a college student, you should continue to grow your network before graduating. And as a young professional, you should continue to seek out opportunities to connect with people more advanced in your field.
Our blog 6 Tips for a Successful Informational Interview prepares you with tactics to make your informational interview go off without a hitch. So in this blog, we’re getting down and dirty with the nitty gritty details of how to set that meeting up.
From the first subject line to the second follow up email, we’re breaking down the communications that will help land you an informational interview step-by-step.
Step 1: Using the digital tools at your fingertips
The easiest way to find a new professional in your field to connect with is through an existing contact in your network who can introduce the two of you. However, if you’re just starting out in your career, your network might not be strong enough to go this route.
Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, or an alumni database from your university, the internet makes it faster and easier to find professionals to connect with. Below are a few ways you can use these platforms to find connections.
On LinkedIn, do a search for fellow alumni by typing in linkedin.com/alumni into your URL. This will automatically populate with the universities you have listed on your LinkedIn profile. You can filter the alumni by where they live and where they work.
Interested in expanding outside your alumni base? You can use the LinkedIn search box to search terms such as “marketing,” “fundraising,” “policy,” or any other industry keyword related to your field.
Dying to work at a particular company? You can use the LinkedIn search box to search by an organization’s name to see its employees.
When using LinkedIn, see if you have any mutual connections to a professional you’d like to meet. If you know the mutual connection well, they might introduce the two of you, increasing your chances of forming a professional relationship with them.
On Twitter, you can try a similar search tactic to find fellow alumni. In the search bar, type in “(Your University) Alum.” Anyone who lists this in their bio will pop up under the people tab.
Step 2: Attend events in your city
Prefer meeting someone face-to-face? Ditch the internet and plan to attend an event. Whether it’s a networking happy hour or another gathering with a networking component, events are an effective way to make organic connections. Head over to Facebook or Eventbrite to search for networking opportunities or other events related to your particular sector.
Step 3: How to find their email
Struggling to find an email address to contact the person you want to interview? Use the email search tool Hunter. It will give you patterns for the company’s email format. Insert your contacts name to the pattern, and you should be ready to reach out.
If their email isn’t in Hunter, use the semantics of other company emails to guess what their email is. Common semantics of a company's email are email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also try google searching them to see if their email appears in articles, press, or PDFs online. Many companies also have a directory online that you can search for particular employees.
Step 4: Ask for 15 minutes of their time
Once you find someone using one of the search methods above, it’s time to connect, and here’s exactly how you get on their radar with a cold outreach email. Use our tailored template to show your genuine interest and make a solid ask of the new connection.
Play with the script above to make it your own, but remember to be human in your email and don’t try to be over the top with formality. Keep the body of the email to no more than 4 sentences and use a hard break for each sentence. Most people read emails on phones and if it is longer than 4 sentences or do not have a hard break, it will read like a novel and be ignored.
Not a current student?
Swap out “student” in the subject line with “aspiring (insert desired career profession).” In the body of the email, tweak the beginning of the second sentence to reflect your young in your career and are hoping to learn more about your field.
Step 5: Follow up
If they don’t respond to this email within 7-10 days, don’t be afraid to follow up 1-2 times. Simply find the original email in your sent box, hit reply all, and then send the below email.
Don’t pester them. If they don’t respond after a follow up, then consider reaching out to other people.
Step 6: Schedule a time and go to the meeting
Whether its a phone call or coffee, make sure you send over a calendar invite after they send their availability. Be clear on the meeting location or phone line, so that both of you are on the same page.
Send a friendly reminder email the day before the meeting. Frame this email around your excitement for the opportunity to connect. This will put you back on their radar and allow them the opportunity to reschedule if anything urgent has popped up for them at work.
Remember that they are taking time out of their busy schedule for you, so be conscientious of their time and willingness to meet.
And that concludes our step-by-step guide to landing your next informational interview! Remember to do the research, find the right connection, and reach out with a straightforward, conscientious request.
Comment below to let us know how successful you’ve been with landing informational interviews!