Strategy is Priority #1
Your most important networking step is arranging informational interviews with recent graduates working in renewable energy. But you need to have a plan. You need to be strategic. The strategy is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. You don’t ask for a job or to be recommended. Your interviewee does not know you and quite likely has little influence over recruiting in any event. No one wants to say “no,” so these requests usually get ignored.
A Time to Listen
Instead, your goal is to ask questions to get your interviewee to tell their story about how they got their awesome job at your dream renewables company. Most of us like to talk about ourselves; it’s the human condition. Plus, many of us love to give back and help out. Consequently, asking about one’s background and story during an informational interview is something that will elicit great conversation. It is important to understand that it is the quality and not just the quantity of the connections that matter in this context.
Your Goal is to Gather Information and Make a Good Impression
This informational interview strategy is a polite way to gather information (tips that worked for the interviewee) and to develop the interviewee’s trust. You want to make a good impression so the person remembers you when the call is over. Some (not all) of these people will help you in the long run. For example, they will hear of future opportunities and will get back to you if they enjoyed chatting with you. They may even mention you to the “hiring person” at their company in the future. If you actually are eligible and qualified for a specific job (then open at that company), it will get discussed naturally at the end of the call.
Be Patient, Persistent and Proactive
This informational interviewing strategy takes time and patience. You need to do this with a lot of people (way more than 2 or 3) and months in advance of graduating/interning – shop when you don’t need to buy! If that’s depressing to hear because you need a job now, then consider the following. Good contacts will help you over and over in the future. So, the contacts you build now may help you now and will help you later.
If you liked this article on informational interviews, you may want to read, “Informational Interviews – “How to Make the Connection,” “Finding the Common Ground – The Most Effective Networking Tool,” and “How to Prepare for Your Informational Interview.”