A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a working professional living in Washington, D.C. She would soon be visiting friends in Houston and was interested in meeting with me while she was in town to ask questions about my career path and current job. I love career conversations, so of course I obliged! With one simple email, she was taking control of her destiny by arranging what we call an informational interview.
These “interviews” are networking strategies that give you (the job seeker) the opportunity to meet with professionals in fields that you’re interested in, so that you can ask them informative questions. While the purpose of an informational interview is not to ask for a job or internship, it gets you on employers’ radar so that when positions do become available, they might remember you and give you a call.
Anyway, she and I met on campus for coffee and discussed her current job and future plans. But before we knew it, we were chatting like old friends; discussing not just work but also dating/relationships and travel! As we were getting up to leave, she mentioned that she’d be attending a hot yoga class with her friends before heading back to D.C. the following day. The funny thing was that I’d been considering trying out a hot yoga class for weeks, but could never find a location or friend to go with. I figured that since we’d just had such a great conversation, it wouldn’t be creepy if I tagged along to give it a shot.
While hot yoga was not my best life experience (I ended up walking out to cool off, only to realize that I’d been laying on the bench in the men’s dressing room) she and I connected really well and I even exchanged numbers with her friends that live here in Houston. All because of her bold email, she now has me as a contact and I got to try out a new yoga studio and meet other young, female professionals!
Often times, we are intimidated by the thought of reaching out to someone we don’t know. But in 2014, when the internet allows us access to virtually anyone at any time, you’re only doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of these opportunities. The next time you find yourself wishing you had the “right connection”, Google a company’s website, scroll through the staff bios, and find someone that you’d be interested in meeting with. The worst that could happen is that they say no or ignore your email. But best-case scenario, you get your career questions answered and you make a new friend in the process!