If you’re looking to make more connections, switch careers, or learn new skills, then an informational interview can help you meet your goals.
Informational interviews are one of the more underused networking tools. But if you can learn to effectively incorporate informational interviews into your professional development, you’ll soon realize just how beneficial they can be. Not only are they a great way to expand your network, but they are a great way to learn something new that can be relevant to your personal and career life.
You can read more about how to prepare for informational interviews here, but how can you incorporate them into your life? Here are three ways to ensure that you are maximizing your use of informational interviews
Define Your “Why”
Whenever you do an informational interview, you should always have a learning goal. That is, what do you want to learn from the interview? Are you looking to understand an industry or career position? Do you want to discover new resources for developing a skill or qualifications? Are you looking to figure out what skills and qualifications you need? All of these are valid reasons for an informational interview, but if you don’t go into the interview with that goal in mind, you may leave empty-handed.
Your learning goal shapes the questions you ask and the conversation you have. The goal focuses the conversation, gives it meaning, and enables both you and the person you are interviewing to better follow the conversation.
Plan Your Interviews
If you want informational interviews to become an effective networking tool, it’s probably a good idea to keep track of it all. Make a spreadsheet with information that details who you talked with, your goal for the conversation, what you learned, and contact information. Even more, you can include a list of people you want to talk with for your next informational interview.
One of the best parts about an informational interview spreadsheet is that it can remind who you talked with and what you talked about. After an informational interview, it’s important to keep in touch with the person every once in awhile. Don’t email them every week, of course, but also try not to let a year go by without sending a quick email or grabbing coffee, especially if they were helpful and you hit it off. The spreadsheet can help you keep track of who you haven’t spoken with in awhile, if you’re looking to keep in touch.
Ask This Question
There is one question that every single person should ask at the end of every single informational interview: Who else should I talk with to learn more about this? The person you interview may be able to put you in touch with someone who can answer more of your questions or even equip you with tools or skills you may need. This is how you build your connections and meet with more and more people. It is likely that the people you speak with will have a large network, so don’t be afraid to ask if they have any recommendations for you.
Informational interviews can be extremely beneficial, and hopefully now you know how to incorporate them into your professional development. So, what are you waiting for? Schedule your next informational interview today!