So you’ve had an informational interview. Congratulations on taking this action to learn more about an industry, organization, and/or type of work.
But now what should you do? Should you stay in contact with the individual you’ve just met, and how? How can you be persistent in communicating without becoming a pest?
Presidians frequently raise questions like these after reading what I’ve written about informational interviewing or hearing me enthusiastically discuss their importance. So here I’m offering you a few relevant suggestions.
1. Determine whether the person with whom you’ve met is someone you’d like to be part of your network. That will depend on any one of a number of factors, including personal chemistry and willingness to help you as well as your interest in their work, organization, and industry.
2. Assuming you want to continue contact, ask the person towards the end of the informational interview if you can stay in touch to offer updates on your education and related professional developments. If he or she responds positively, you might ask about the best way to do so (e.g., email, phone) and how frequently (e.g., monthly, annually).
3. Lacking such guidance, an occasional (quarterly) email often works well as it maintains the flow of communication without being overwhelming for most people.
4. Alternately, connecting with these individuals at industry or other events you both attend is an excellent way to stay connected. At the very least, you can say hello and offer a quick verbal update on relevant developments in your life since you last met.
5. What you share should always relate back in some way to your initial conversation by way of referencing people, organizations, or topics discussed then. In other words, you’re demonstrating that the interest that inspired you to seek the informational interview with this particular person is one that you are pursuing enthusiastically–and that you are committed to this area of inquiry and serious about its relevance to your professional development.
6. More specifically, items you might share include papers or projects you’ve completed; other individuals you’ve met with (especially if they know the person you initially met); Experiential Learning projects; internships; and/or any information, articles, or other resources you believe this individual might find useful and relevant.
7. Be sure to let the individual know when you’ve begun to look for an internship and/or job, especially if they offered to help you in these areas. If he or she did not, you should still let them know what type of position you seek and where as well as soliciting their advice/support for your effort.