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The Secret Networking Tool No One Told You About

Informational Interviews 101

· Career Success

Dear People Ops:

I want to meet more people in human resources working in startups in New York City. Any tips on how to build my network?

I remember early in my career being equally confused about how to build my network. Professional happy hours were awkward and my friend group didn't work in my industry. Then I learned about informational interviewing.

The informational interview is the secret tool everyone should have in their back pocket. A hybrid of an amazing networking opportunity, an info-session, and a job interview, it can give anyone looking for a job or pondering a career change insider scoop (not to mention a much-needed morale boost).

There are three basic things you want from an informational interview:

1. Information

2. Advice
3. To be remembered positively

While the primary purpose of an informational interview is never to ask for a job, employment leads can be a byproduct of conducting an informational interview.

Who can I approach for an informational interview? You can interview individuals that are:

- in a policy area that is of interest to you

- in a functional role within an organization that you’re interested in

- who work at an organization that you are curious about

- who seem to have a career that matches your goals

Will they want to talk to me? Most people will find it flattering that you want to hear their stories and want their advice.

How do I arrange an informational interview? If the person you’d like to interview is someone you know, you may just want to pick up the phone and call. If you do not know the person well, it is appropriate to write a formal email.

Your outreach should include:

- How you found out about them
- Why you’re writing including specifics about why you want to speak to them

- A request to meet with them for approximately 20-40 minutes at their convenience

- How they can contact you

A great template you can use can be found over here.

So get out there - and make those connections!

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