Networking (verb)- to meet professional contacts to increase your understanding of an area, build contacts in that area, or advance your career.
Informational Interview (noun)- networking in an interview-like style. Informational interviews are advantageous over traditional networking, because you demonstrate interest and they have time to get to know you. It can be particularly helpful if you apply to their organization or they may be aware of organizations or people who are hiring or might align better with your interests.
So how do you do set up an informational interview if you don’t know anyone? Well you can’t really. I’ve tried calling organizations outright. When you’re routed through a secretary they are very hesitant to set up an appointment for you with “anyone.”
You can find peoples’ names on the internet. If you’re crafty, you can figure out what their email address scheme is, like firstname.lastname@example.org, and contact them directly. I’ve met a few CEOs and VPs this way, because they are the people who might actually be listed on the website.
Otherwise, make friends. Join professional networks like YNPN; get involved on a volunteer basis with an organization you’re interested in; see what people you know are doing through LinkedIn; check alumni networks from college; and go out to parties where you can actually hear what other people are saying.
When you do meet someone in your desired area or career ask them what networks they are involved in or email list-serves they subscribe to. To that effect, let me make a few other recommendations about how to initiate, conduct, and conclude an informational interview with a contact you’ve acquired.
Prior to an interview:
- Clearly state your goals (i.e. find out about a field or learn more about how to get into their specific occupation) and what you hope they can do for you.
Read the rest of Lauren's tips at YNPN Chicago's Blog
About the contributor:
Lauren recently completed her masters in Health Management at Columbia University in New York. Her previous experiences include developing marketing strategy for a Health Information Exchange in Michigan and conducting policy analysis for the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.Upon taking her current position as the Development Manager working on the ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety she moved to Chicago and got connected, through an informational interview, to YNPN Chicago in January 2011.