I try to keep my blog light. However, every now and again I feel compelled to jump on my soap box and share something that irks me.
Today's topic: networking.
I still keep in touch several professional contacts I respect very much. I had mentioned to one of my contacts a few months ago that I "owe him" for all the good feedback and recommendations he's given me over the years. Since he's a busy guy, I encouraged him to send me any young, hungry marketing or communications professionals or students who want to network or get some good advice.
Earlier this month, I agreed to meet up with a recent grad (Marketing) to discuss her career. After all, I am eternally grateful for the many professionals who met with me when I was a college student -- many of which I'm still in touch with today. I feel inclined to spend some time with young professionals and recent grads because I remember how tough it was to meet people and find jobs.
So the recent grad was perfectly nice, albeit a little clueless about what one does at an informational interview. Of course an informational interview means that there's not a job opening -- but it's a chance for a job seeker to make a good impression on a working professional. Informational interviews are a great way to add people to your network who may have job openings in the future or fantastic other connections to introduce you to. It's also an opportunity to explain your strengths, talents, interests, aspirations and more.
So based on how that convo went, I've compiled a list of informational interview "musts..."
People, for informational interviews, please, I beg of you:
- Bring your resume to the conversation (for both discussion and for critique)
- Bring your portfolio (even if you don't have professional writing, project management or design experience, your classwork is still a good read on your style and work quality)
- Spend more time asking questions of the person who agreed to meet you versus talking about yourself (you'll get more leverage out of these conversations if you seem interested in the person you're meeting's career; in other words, flattery goes a long way)
- Write some interview questions out before you meet ("What's your career path been up to this point?" "What do you enjoy most about your job?" "What suggestions would you offer a recent grad?")
- Know what you're looking for in your next job
- Take notes during your conversation (If I tell you the name of some companies to look up or resources to check out, act like you care and plan to research them)
- WRITE THE PROFESSIONAL WHO TOOK TIME TO MEET UP WITH YOU A FREAKING THANK YOU NOTE (preferably handwritten, but e-mail is better than nothing... I'm still waiting on mine)
Follow these tips and you'll keep from looking like a total goober. Who knows? Maybe you'll impress someone.