In one of our Career Ring™ sessions, participants were asked to reach out to someone who had been referred to them to request an informational interview. I was surprised when one of our participants, a highly motivated, high achieving graduate student, didn’t fulfill the assignment. When I asked him why not, he explained to the group that he felt frozen. He had scripted what he was going to say and practiced it many times, but when the time came to pick up the phone, he couldn’t do it. This happens more often than you might think.
There are no magic answers or strategies that will work for everyone, every time, but may I offer ideas for you to consider? Here is the first:
Begin with those who know you well and want to help. It isn’t easy to reach out to others to request an informational meeting. Here is one way to begin. Create a list of all the people you know. If at all possible, brainstorm this list with a friend or colleague. I think you will find you will come up with more names than you may have thought you would. Remember, don’t discount anyone. You may know what people do, but you don’t know who they know.
From your list of names, create four categories:
- People who know you well and want to help
- People who know your field and the field you are pursuing
- People who know lots of people; i.e., consultants, clergy, sales people
Your challenge, should you decide to accept it: Once you have completed your list of contacts, begin reaching out to people who fall into the category – people who know you well and want to help. Be sure to clearly state what you are pursuing and ask them for referrals; people they know who may be able to help you.
Call at least one of these people and request a face to face meeting. Remember, the purpose of the meeting is to ask for information, help, guidance or advice. It is NOT to inquire if they know of any jobs that may exist. That will come as a byproduct of making meaningful connections!