This is a follow-up post to Friday’s Help: How can this job seeker get results from his phone calls and emails?
There are awesome, excellent comments in that post from job seekers and career experts. A lot of the comments have the same theme.
Take some time and read through Wayne’s process and then read through the comments, suggestions and advice. Wayne is a smart guy and the fact that he’s got this process (a) documented and (b) that he does it is pretty amazing. The comments are all very, very good.
So, instead of me telling you what the others have already said in their comments, let me tell you how I ask for an informational interview. I’ll give you two options to choose from.
I think the main thing to understand, and you get this from the comments on Friday’s post, is that you are a peer/colleague to the person you are contacting, not a needy, whiny, begging job seeker. You bring value to the table and are not desperately hoping there’s a job offer to be had before your 20 minutes are up. Important question: what is the objective of an informational interview?
With that in mind, here is what I most often do:
Subject: Call this week? (or, Follow-up from Friday)
Body: Hi Wayne, how’s it going? I found you on LinkedIn and was hoping we could get on a call in the next week or two. I’d specifically like to talk about what you think about how Obamacare is going to impact our industry. I am hearing conflicting opinions and would love to know what you think, based on your experience and current role.
Can we get on a 20 minute call this week or next week? Let me know if there is a time that works best for you.
(email signature – even if you have to take some stuff out or change it so it’s on-brand for this message)
Now, understand, I’m pretty casual. If you want to beat this up in the comments, go for it. Tell me what to do better. Of course, understand that the example above is hypothetical (I’m not really asking anyone about Obamacare in the industry). I like how SHORT Option I is.
Here’s another style that I really like.
Subject: Call on Wednesday? (something VERY specific, and the intent is that this Subject isn’t going to cause you to delete it simply by reading the subject)
Body: Wayne, I found your LinkedIn profile while doing research in our industry. Yours kept coming up in my searches. (put this email into context… where did you find this person… which might be something like “I met you at…” or “I saw you at the ___ event….”)
I would like to get your opinion on how Obamacare is going to affect our industry. I see you have experience in a few different companies over the last 15 years in this industry and as the VP of Whatever Company, I’m guessing this has been a hot topic. (please let the person know you aren’t going to waste 20 minutes of his life dabbling on about garbage. Yes, I have had this happen multiple times 🙁 If you can specify what you might talk about that let’s them know this is a purposeful conversation)
Can we get on a 20 minute call in the next week or two? I have some very specific questions, and am happy to share what I’ve learned from other executives in the industry on how they are going to handle the 50-person issue. (ASK FOR IT! And notice, I snuck in some value add for the person… I don’t think it’s necessary but as an executive or strategist I always like hearing about what others in the industry are doing right or wrong.)
I look forward to hearing from you,
Email Signature… (same comments as in Option I)
What is the purpose of this call?
Is it to ask for a job?
Is it to let the person know you are ready for a transition?
NO! The purpose is to start a professional relationship.
Some coaches will tell you that you need to have a different type of conversation, but I think you need to establish a relationship with the person first. Once they begin to “know and trust” you, then you can have other conversations, but don’t start off needy.
Start off as a peer and colleague. Start off as someone who has something to GIVE. Start off as someone who they WANT to have a relationship with.
There will be a “right time” to say “you know, I’m looking at a change… who should I talk to.” It might be at the end of the first conversation, it might not be. But if you have a 20 minute conversation (aka, informational interview) and you don’t have a stronger relationship with that person, you’ve wasted 20 minutes.
And, you might end up on some people’s black lists. In other words, they might think “that person is needy and wounded… I just don’t have time to help and give and save… ”
What do you think?