The Information Interview
Landing an in-person meeting is the golden ticket in the networking world. Whether you are in sales or marketing, looking for a new career, or maybe you are an entrepreneur looking for a major funder, an in-person meeting with your target person can heavily influence your success. In a world where time is money and everyone has their calendars filled to the brim, how is it possible to reach out to someone you have never talked to and convince them to meet with you in person?
Well, it’s not as difficult as you may think.
We have a strategy called The Information Interview that can help you land a meeting with almost anyone you’d like. We say ‘almost anyone’ because the president of the United States might be a bit challenging to reach, however, we are not totally ruling it out.
What is an Information Interview?
Simply put, an Information Interview is a meeting that you set up with a person that you are genuinely curious about to retrieve as much information from them as possible. It is more of a conversation than an actual interview.
The Information Interview is a strategy we taught our students in the Designing Your Life course. Our students were given the assignment of using the information interview to schedule a meeting with someone who works at a company or field they were interested in. The rate of success was incredible. Most, if not all, of our students were able to a schedule a meeting or phone call with their target person.
Currently, our team at Conclave uses the information interview for networking and to establishing new partnerships.
Take a look at how to land an Information Interview in 5 easy steps below:
1.Do your research
First, you must do the proper research on the person you want to meet with before reaching out to them. Look them up on Google, check out their LinkedIn profile, and even feel free to skim their social media pages to learn more about their professional and social interests and achievements.
2.Find common ground
Look for any subjects or topics that you share in common with your target person. Did you graduate from the same school? Do you have similar hobbies? Have you worked on similar projects? Do you cheer for the same sports team? Any piece of information you can find that links the two of you together is golden. This information will play an important role when crafting your message to them.Send a Note – Make it about THEM
3. Craft a message
Now that you have done the proper research and have found some common ground, you are now ready to craft a message. Take a look at these example introduction messages below:
Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli. I am interested in learning more about your company. I am an entrepreneur in the creative media industry and am looking to expand my network. I am looking for collaborators for my current project. Would you be open to meeting in person? Please let me know.
Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli. I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you are a Creative Director at GoPro. That sounds fascinating! I’m also in the creative industry, and it would be great to hear all about your story over lunch or a cup of coffee (my treat). Would you happen to have a 30 minute slot open in your schedule next week for an in-person meeting or phone call?
What would you say is the main difference between examples #1 and #2? As you may have noticed, example #1 is all about me, while example #2 is all about them. When attempting to land an information interview, you have to center your first message around your target person. It will highly increase your chances of receiving a response.
Let’s break down the elements that make Example #2 a much more inviting message:
- Hello, my name is Gabriel Lomeli.
- Introduce yourself. Short and sweet.
- I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you are a Creative Director at GoPro.
- Let them know that you intentionally did research on them and that you know exactly who they are and what they do for a living.
- That sounds fascinating!
- “You think I’m fascinating? What a coincidence, I think I’m fascinating too!” Boom – instant rapport established. Everyone thinks they are fascinating – let them know that you agree. You both already have that in common.
- I’m also in the creative industry…
- Establish more common ground by highlighting interests/work in common.
- …and it would be great to hear all about your story over lunch or a cup of coffee (my treat).
- The one thing that everybody loves to talk about…is themselves. Give them the opportunity to do so by asking to hear their story.
- Sweeten the deal by offering to buy them coffee or lunch.
After crafting your message, go ahead and let it fly. We recommend sending your message through email or LinkedIn’s messaging system.
If you’re lucky, you will receive a prompt response. If not, make sure to follow up with them. If you are targeting a senior level person, chances are that your message got lost in their inbox. A good rule of thumb is to wait a week before following up with them. It is okay to follow up at least 3 times if you do not receive a reply.
5. Ask a BUNCH of questions
Once you receive a response from your target person and have successfully set up a day and time to meet, make sure you come fully prepared for the information interview. Write down anywhere between 20 – 50 questions to ask (seriously, 20 – 50!). Ask as many as you can in the duration of the interview.
What I have found during the information interviews that I have conducted is that at some point during the conversation, my subject will say: “ahh, I feel like I have been talking about myself this whole time. Enough about me, what about you?”
At this point, you can talk about your own interests and goals, along with your background, and begin to explore ways in which the two of you can collaborate. It is an organic and authentic approach to networking and exploring new professional opportunities.
Outcomes from an Information Interview
You would be surprised how many great opportunities can sprout from a good information interview. You can receive additional referrals, job offers, and/or valuable information and advice for your professional career. Approach all information interviews with an open mind and be open to all possibilities. Do not pass up an opportunity to reach out to someone that you would like to connect with – some people are just waiting to tell you their story.
–Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.