This last tip is the one that I know will receive the most eye-rolls yet it is the most effective career building tool. Informational interviews are the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” because it is an interview, however there is not the pressure of an immediate employment decision to be made. I’ll explain…
An informational interview is a meeting that you set up with someone in an industry to discuss practices within their industry, their own company philosophies, and get their advice on career matters. Instead of the authority figure asking questions, you are asking questions to them (and everyone knows that people who ask a lot of questions are perceived as being more intelligent and personable to others).
In many forms these meetings make the person in authority take on the mentor role and that person sort of adopts you in their eyes. And the beautiful aspect to informational interviews is that you can “interview” just about anyone. Many entrepreneurs starting out adopt the policy of calling millionaires and having lunch dates with them to discuss how they became so successful. You can do the same thing by contacting other industry leaders that you respect and have lunch with them.
Lastly, the most important question to ask in your interview is this last one:
“Could you refer me to 3 other people that you think I could speak with?”
This will feed the process of setting up more informational interviews, except it will be easier because you can use the original person as a referral. Also, write a thank-you note and mail it that same day.
Contact 3 influential people in your industry to set up a 30 minute lunch date with them. You may need to be relentless as important people have many gatekeepers to keep people from wasting their time. (1 hour)