How do you turn a stranger into a mentor? You use informational interviews. This video offers five tips on how to make an informational interview successful and then turn it into a mentoring relationship.
- Would you ask someone you had never met to marry you on a first date? Probably not, as getting married is a big commitment, and something to work up to for most people. The same holds true for mentoring. I recommend that you reach out to a potential mentor and do a small ask first, such as requesting an informational interview. An informational interview gathers information about a person and their career.
It's never about requesting a job, although if you build rapport with your interviewee, they might volunteer to open some doors or become a mentor to you. What's the first step to make an informational interview successful and then turn it into a mentoring relationship? First, prepare. To make an informational interview successful you must be prepared. Anyone can google informational interview questions and come to the interview with a generic list.
I suggest you start with a generic list and then personalize the questions. It is crucial that you formulate your questions so that you show you have done your background research and are sincerely interested. For example, instead of asking a movie director, "What is your typical day like?" say something like, "According to Hollywood Reporter, you spent 80% of your time "in meetings trying to get money, "and the creative process happens last minute.
"Is this a typical experience and day for you?" Second, respect your interviewee's time. A typical informational interview is 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to extend the conversation, check in. Say something like, "I'm really enjoying our time together "and would love to continue, "but I want to be respectful of your time. "I know I'd asked for 20 minutes. "Do we need to stop now or is it okay to continue?" Third, communicate your desire to reciprocate.
One of the best experiences I ever had with a potential protege who conducted an informational interview with me only took 15 minutes on the phone. He said to me, "I want to ask you three questions "in 15 minutes about your work." two of the questions were very specific about my research, which showed his interest and preparation. His third question was, "How can I be helpful to you?" Wow, when this potential protege asked me how he could help me, I was impressed.
He was the first who had ever seen our relationship as mutually beneficial from day one. I will take his call anytime. Fourth, turn the interview into a mentoring relationship. How do you turn this one-time interview into a long-term mentoring relationship? Begin by expressing your appreciation for the interview. Then ask the potential mentor if it's okay to stay connected or to meet again.
There are many ways to stay connected. For example, you can follow up with a thank you note. Also, you can write an endorsement on LinkedIn to publicly acknowledge your potential mentor. Other ways to stay connected are to send articles about their interests and current events to your potential mentor. Take the initiative to plan your next meeting. An informational interview is a small ask and a terrific way to open the door to a possible mentor.
For more information on how to do informational interviews, I placed a guide in the exercise files. Use it, and these steps, to conduct a successful informational interview and lock in a great mentor that's right for you.