Setting Up a Meeting

When you finally engage your contact on the phone, your goal is to arrange an in-person meeting. Reiterate the promise that you made in your cover letter: you'll only need twenty minutes of the person's time.

Still, that's a big chunk of time out of someone's day, so be sensitive to the potential contact's needs. If he or she are particularly busy, suggest that you meet before or after business hours. Ninety percent of all of the informational interviews that I have been on or conducted were either before or after business hours.

Many PIT members have also found that going out to lunch with a contact for an informational interview has been particularly effective. Such a meeting, of course, wouldn't give you the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the business and pick up clues about the company's culture. But, if an informational interview outside the office is the only kind that would fit into the contact's schedule, agree to it.

There's only one point on which you shouldn't waiver; you want to conduct the informational interview in person rather than by phone for a couple of reasons.

  • First of all, you want to observe your contact so you can communicate effectively. What someone says and what his or her body language tells you may be two different things.
  • Secondly, an informational interview is, in a sense, a dress rehearsal for a job interview. You'll want your networking contact's feedback on how well you present yourself during the interview, and you can only get that feedback from an in-person meeting.

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