Informational Interviews


The most powerful vehicle for networking is not exchanging cards at a business meeting designed for networking, rather it is the one-on-one genuine human connection you create when conducting informational interviews. It is based on relationship-building and introduces the keys to networking for influence and visibility.

Who’s brain would you like to pick about their career path or their business model?  Informational interviews allow you to request small doses of mentoring from others who are always flattered and willing to help. Continuous improvement and professional growth (not to mention business development) relies on key learnings garnered from informational interviews.

  1. Design your interview questions based on your goals and the specific person you are interviewing
  2. Select your interview candidates based on your goals
  3. Conduct informational interviews with those who are doing what you want to do or whom you admire.
  4. Remember the 80/20 rule and get them talking 80% of the time…focus on them and their perspective, not your stuff.
  5. Send a thank you note

General interview questions to jump-start your brainstorming:
1.    What matters to you most?
2.     How did you get to where you currently are in your career -what was your path?  Was it intentional and strategic, or organic?
3.     What lessons have you learned that you could share with me about success?
4.     What skills or best practices are required for success in what you are doing?
5.     What do you recommend I read?
6.    Whom do you recommend I talk to about this?
7.     Then, for the 20% of the conversation that is about you, it helps to have a personal platform or series of commitments and expectations you’d like the other to know about you…this may change given the particular person to whom you are speaking.  How would you like to be known?  Think about your brand.
Applications of informational interviews:

  1. networking in the marketplace
  2. networking in-house
  3. increasing visibility
  4. seeking promotion
  5. rapid onboarding (keys to success here, etc.)
  6. understanding culture
  7. learning to navigate political landscape
  8. building coalition
  9. creating allies
  10. increasing your reach and influence
  11. finding out how to make things happen in a particular arena
  12. finding out how you’re perceived
  13. identifying patterns for career paths or success factors
  14. revealing themes
  15. market research
  16. practice and fine-tuning a message (lobbying)
  17. changing jobs
  18. changing careers
  19. changing industries
  20. expanding leadership role
  21. new team
  22. new boss
  23. after a merger – to learn the hotspots in the other culture

©2005 Suzi Pomerantz

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