Informational Interviews – How to Make the Connection

Informational Interviews – How to Make the Connection

Written in collaboration with Engineers for a Sustainable World

informational interviews

Targeting Industries, Companies & Roles

So how do you find the right people to talk to in an informational interview?  Your first step is to identify specific industries, companies and roles you are interested in (making a large brainstorming tree is very helpful).  Most folks go to LinkedIn and do a “company search” to find companies they are targeting.  Afterwards, select employees at that company who (1) are in roles they are interested in and (2) are recent graduates (graduated in the last few years).  Job titles and pictures tell you who graduated recently (e.g., skip VPs, CEOs, etc.).  Look for recent graduates from your school.

 

Email Template

Next, send an email asking for a short informal interview.   Try crafting a short message in your connect invite (it’s free), which if accepted, allows you to send your request for an interview for free.  Your fallback is to purchase (or sign up for the free LinkedIn trial) and send an Inmail.  Either way, you need to develop an email pitch template which you can (and must) customize to fit each company/person.  A template example is attached here.  Key structural points in the email are:

  1. Keep it short, several sentences
  2. Don’t write forever about yourself, selling how awesome you are.  Shine the light on the prospective informational interviewee, on his/her story;
  3. Personalize the template email.  Say something about the specific company and person (e.g., their job title);
  4. Be clear that you are not asking for a job, but rather for insight;
  5. Provide your phone and email contact information;
  6. Talk about their schedule & availability; not yours;
  7. The tone of your email should ooze passion and humility (you so want to get in, but you know how hard it’s going to be).

The Unexpected Helping Hand

The advice so far is to be strategic and focused.  But, there is an important exception.  Sometimes you will get great help from someone who does not meet your selection criteria.  For example, you may be interested only in solar jobs in the Bay Area.  Accordingly, you might not reply to an email from someone writing to you about a bioenergy job Denver.  Don’t blow them off!  Take every chance you get to talk to people and create a contact.  You simply cannot predict how that person might help you in the future or how you can help them.

More Informational Interviewing Insights

Check out Dayaway’s Zooom-In networking platform (on our homepage).  Zoom-in is even easier than using LinkedIn to find young professionals to talk to in the renewable energy field.  Make sure to check it out, it’s a gold mine!

If you liked this article on informational interviews, you may want to read, “Informational Interviews – “More Buying, Less Selling,” “Finding the Common Ground – The Most Effective Networking Tool,” and “How to Prepare for Your Informational Interview.”