- Show respect. Do this from the first moment of contact. Even if you’re only asking for fifteen minutes, you’re still asking for something, so ask with humility and grace and don’t get upset if the person says no. Thank them genuinely, even if they can’t the find the time to meet with you.
- If you invite your contact to lunch, pick up the tab. Be smooth about this, even if it means making an agreement with the waiter beforehand. A younger person or mentee sitting down with an older and more established person can result in some confusion over the bill. Don’t let this get awkward.
- Don’t overstay. If you ask for fifteen minutes, be ready to stand up when this period comes to an end. Of course, don’t cut your contact off if she’s in the middle of a sentence, but when she reaches the end of her sentence, don’t ask another question. Thank her and say goodbye.
- Be intelligent. Don’t just sound smart—be smart. Make sure your questions are meaningful, thoughtful, well chosen, and genuine. Don’t act as if you know more than you actually do, but don’t feign ignorance in an attempt to flatter the person either. They’ll be much more flattered by the genuine passion and interest you show in their chosen field.
- Get the answer to these two questions: 1) Do you have any advice about the next steps I should take? 2) What will I need most if I’m going to succeed in this field?
- Send a thank-you note. Immediately after your meeting, place a small, handwritten card in the mail thanking the person for her time. Promise to keep her in the loop regarding the progress of your job search. And follow through on this—when you finally land your next position, send her a quick note by mail or email to let her know.
Scheduling a series of informational interviews makes your job search faster and more efficient. Even if you don’t get a job offer, you’ll still gain a valuable learning experience and new connections to your network.Informational interviews are simple enough to arrange: Just identify the name of someone in your industry who may be able to give you some advice, and then reach out to that person by phone or email. Schedule a fifteen-minute meeting in which you sit down with the person and ask him or her for guidance, tips, and insider tools that can help you take your career wherever you’d like it to go.Since you’re not asking the person for any material thing beyond a few minutes of her time, it’s okay to simply be bold and pick up the phone. And since these meetings are so short, you can schedule multiple sessions in single day if you choose. But to get the most out of these sessions, you’ll want to keep a few easy rules in mind: