When you are thinking about moving your career in another direction, you need information. You need to understand what it’s really like, how it pays and if possible, how to get there.
One of the best ways to do this is the information interview. This is when someone who is in your chosen segment/field/industry agrees to sit down with you to share some of those details.
You can meet with company presidents, people who sit on industry associations, technical experts. They are all potential sources of information to support your decision making.
When you approach people, make it clear that you are looking for information, not a job (even if, deep down, you are looking for a job). They should see meeting with you as a low risk, low maintenance opportunity to show what they know.
When you are in one of the meetings, your body language needs to be calm and relaxed. Remember this is not about a job and it is not about you.
Think ahead of time about what you want to learn. Have five or six questions you want to have answered. Make sure one of them focuses on the person who is giving you all this good intel. You could ask how they got into the business or what it is that they really love about it.
Take notes if you’d like but make sure to do lots of listening. That’s what you are there for – to listen and learn.
When the person starts to shuffle around and look like they are ready to finish, respect that. Stand up, shake their hand and thank them for their time and willingness to share what they have shared.
It is wise to send a thank you note the next day. It can be handwritten or emailed – It’s a great way to show how much you appreciated the respect they gave you.
You might want to drop a note to the person who referred you. We frequently lose sight of those people and let’s face it, in many cases, they really got the ball rolling for you.
Information interviews really are a great way to get the inside info on what’s going on – make the most of them.