Beyond the Informational Interview: Building a Lasting Relationship

Extend the life of an informational interview by turning that one meeting into an important media contact and lifelong career asset.

We’ve said it before, informational interviewing is one of the most important things you can be doing for your career. But what happens after the phone is hung up, coffee is gone, and thank you notes are sent? Since this industry is all about who you know, take every opportunity to build another meaningful contact. Extend the life of an informational interview by turning that one meeting into an important media contact and lifelong career asset. Here’s how:

Follow Up
It goes without saying that as with any interview, you send a thank you note once the meeting is over. That’s expected. What is not expected, however, is additional follow-up. If you want to stay on someone’s radar, you need to keep the communication flowing. This doesn’t mean daily status updates, but every few months, consider sending a note letting them know where you are in your career. If they respond, you’re on your way to building a meaningful contact. If you get no response, my suggestion is to move on: a contact that perceives you as nagging is not a useful one.

Track Their Career
If you get a LinkedIn alert or hear through the grapevine that your contact has moved onto a new company or been promoted to a new position, congratulate them! This shows goodwill and that you’re staying on top of industry trends, both of which are valuable traits.

Ask for More Information
Open up an ongoing dialogue by asking for more information. Either a follow-up question to something you spoke about in your meeting or advice on something new. For example, if you know that your contact previously worked for Warner Bros. and you find yourself with a job interview lined up there, reach out to your contact and see what they thought about  the company, etc.

And Then Wait…
After your informational interview, don’t jump straight into asking for favors like making a connection or passing along your resume. The most valuable contacts are the ones that feel like they have some connection to you, so take the time to build a working relationship with your contact. There’s no one-size-fits-all timeframe to wait out before you can start calling in favors, it’s more nuanced than that. But a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “If I were in this person’s shoes, would I feel like this is too soon?” If you’re unsure, wait a little longer.

 

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