How do you get someone to respond, when it is so easy for them to delete your email, or voicemail? Barb Bruno helps you put together a step-by-step process to solve that problem.
- Trying to schedule informational interviews can force you out of your comfort zone especially if you don't have sales experience. So how do you get someone to respond when it's so easy for them to just delete your email or voicemail? That's the challenge we'll solve right now by putting together a step-by-step process to follow. Once you've established a list of people to contact for informational interviews, set up a system to track your efforts. Do this before you reach out to any of your targets.
Create a spreadsheet that organizes your contact information, how you found the contact, dates you communicated, what was discussed, your planned follow-up contacts and results. Then start making contact. The most effective approach is to send an initial email and followed up with a phone call. Your email should accomplish two things. Explain why you've reached out to them and your simple easy-to-understand request.
Most people like to feel like they're giving back so begin your email by something like this, "I'd appreciate your advice," or, "I hope you'll be able to help me." Appealing to the person's natural desire to help will improve your chances of getting a positive response. Ask for something very specific and try to entice the person to say yes. For example, "I'd love to have a quick conversation "to learn how you got your start "and how you advanced to where you are today." Take time to explain exactly why you really want to meet with this specific person.
Do you admire their career path? Maybe someone told you this person is well-respected and has tremendous expertise. Make it clear that you want to talk to them to learn about their career history and perspective on the job or industry. You will be more successful scheduling informational interviews when you personalize your request or remind this person of who referred you. Do not make it sound like you're looking for a job because you'll quickly be redirected to HR or the employment pages of their website.
Show your contact that you understand their busy schedule by saying, "I can only imagine how busy you are "so even 15 or 20 minutes would be greatly appreciated." And try to pin down a time to meet. "I'll be in your area next week "and would be happy to meet "whenever it's most convenient for you." If you don't hear back, don't give up. The people you're targeting are busy and they may have other pressing priorities. If you haven't heard back within a week, write to them again.
Refer to your first email and reiterate how much 15 or 20 minutes of their time would mean to you because of what they have accomplished. Understand that it's your responsibility to continue to follow up every couple of weeks until you receive an answer. Most people love to talk about themselves and are happy to help someone who wants to pursue their same interests. You must be persistent and kind throughout your followup contacts.
One last tip and this is very important. Do not send the same email to every contact. Your email should be personalized based on how and why you targeted each person. Connecting with people is the key to success. And if done correctly, informational interviews will greatly enhance your network and job search efforts throughout your entire career.
- Compare an informational interview to a job interview.
- Identify companies and contacts to interview.
- Prepare for an interview, by researching questions and updating your résumé.
- Conduct an informational interview.
- Analyze the results from your interview.