You got an informational interview! But now what? In order to get the most out of a networking meeting, you need to decide what questions to ask and do your research ahead of time. Whether your informational interview is because you’re job searching or because you’re trying to expand your professional network, here’s how to prepare:
Get clear about why you want to meet. Do you want to learn about potential career paths in your field? Do you want to identify local companies that might hire someone with your skill set? Do you want to get insight or resources into a work project you have?
Prepare a two to three sentence explanation of who you are and what you do. Otherwise known as an elevator pitch, you need to be ready to talk about your background and career path whenever you’re networking.
Write down at least two open ended questions related to your meeting purpose. For example, if you want to learn about your career options, you might ask: “What are some of the career paths you considered, and how did you make the choice to pursue them or not?” Broad questions create opportunities for the other person you are networking with to do most of the talking and provide contextual information that is likely missing from other types of resources.
Review the person’s LinkedIn or professional bio. It may help you generate additional questions that only that person could answer, and it will give you a baseline reference for roles or companies they refer to during the conversation.
Decide on one ask. Get in the habit of asking people for help, and don’t be shy! People like to be helpful. For example: “Do you know of anyone with a UX Researcher title who you could introduce me to? I’d like to learn more about those roles.”
Don’t be nervous- the key to good networking conversations is to ask people questions they will enjoy answering, and most people like talking about their lives and opinions. :) The reason for doing these preparatory steps is to demonstrate respect for the other person’s time, and to make sure you get the most out of your informational interview.