How to Land Informational Interviews
Today’s boss tip is all about landing informational interviews.
When I was a young intern in DC, I learned a handy trick for landing informational interviews with senior-level professionals who could help open doors for my career. Aside from preparing for these meetings, the hardest part was actually getting their attention and getting them on the books.
After all, how many countless young professionals full of ambition were vying for time on their already jam-packed schedules? Lots.
So I came up with a super-handy email script that helped me get their attention.
First, a super snappy subject line, ideally with the name of a colleague of theirs who had first brought them to my attention, like, “Evan Smith recommended we talk.”
Then, a 1 to 2 line introduction of who I was, how I heard of them, and my current status as a student exploring career opportunities.
Then – and this is key – I’d add in a time-sensitive meeting ask, such as, “I’m in town next week and would love to connect over coffee, if your schedule allows,” or “I’ll also be at the conference you’re speaking at next week, and would love to connect.”
I might already have plans to be in town then, or I might not. But, if this VIP was worth it and was willing to meet, I would often buy a bus ticket and crash with a friend just to make it happen.
I’d end my email by attaching my resume for further perusal if they wished, and proposing 3 times to connect that would work for me, displayed in bullet point format so it was super easy to read and respond. Providing a limited number of options for meeting times was key – even if I had all the time in the world. It made it easier for them to scan their calendars and give me a thumbs up or down based on their availability.
And then, I’d wait. When they inevitably didn’t reply to my first email, I’d “bump it up” in their inbox by simply replying to that initial message and adding a quick line like, “Hey there, I wanted to make sure you saw my note from earlier this week – would love to catch you while I’m in town!” I’d be sure to do this mid-morning on a weekday when they were most likely to be at their desk, with their email inbox open.
I’d shamelessly bump up an email like this every 2 to 5 days until I got a response, and I had a very high rate of acceptance as a result.
I revisited this old strategy of mine last year when Brad (the boo) was starting his cross-country job search as we plotted our move from DC to Denver. As it turns out, this same email strategy holds up nearly 10 years later, even though it seems people’s inboxes are more overflowing than ever.
Have you had luck getting the attention of super busy people you have a career crush on?
I’d love to hear the strategies that have worked for you. Are you shameless in your pursuit of connection, like me? Or have you found a more reserved strategy that works?
Share in the comments below, and use my handy downloadable template to put this email strategy to work in your job search. I’d love to hear how this boss tip works for you!