The whole point about networking and reaching out directly to people is to meet as many new people in your field as possible. Since you are not asking them for a job, you are doing research in the field, it is important to prepare for these meetings as much as you would prepare for any interview. Practice your pitch, bring a copy of your resume, dress as you would for an interview. Smile, shake hands firmly, and say thank you for taking time out of your day to meet with me. So what do you do during this information meeting?
1.Find out about the company – Ask questions that will elicit information that is not readily available on the website. What are the challenges they are facing now? What is their competition like? How do they incentivize their employees? What kinds of opportunities are there for growth within the company?
2.Ask questions about the individual’s career path. What made them choose this career? How long have they been with the company? Where did they work before? What kind of educational background do they have? What are the skills necessary to succeed?
3.Give your Pitch. Do mention briefly (use your pitch) your background, experience. Tell 2 or 3 stories about your accomplishments. Pick those that relate to the mission of the organization.
4.$64,000 question. Then ask, would a person with my qualifications and experience fit into an organization like yours? You really want to find out if you would be a good fit with the company’s needs and culture, based upon your education, skills and personality.
5.Take- aways – Remember to ask at the end of the meeting, by showing them your list of targeted companies, is there anyone you know who works at these companies that you could introduce me to? Is there a company, institution, organization that is missing from my list? Ideally you will walk away with one or two new names of people to contact and one or two more organizations to add to your list. Then contact those new people for your next information meeting.
After the meeting, follow up as you would for an interview with an email thanking them for their time and their advice and mentioning one or more of your skills. Stay in touch periodically with information or a recent article that relates to their company and their personal interests.
Amy Geffen, PhD is a Five O’Clock Club Certified Career Coach with over 30 years of experience in non-profits, associations and college administration. She has worked with financial, insurance and engineering professionals as well as attorneys, academics, college students, and non-profit executives.
(c) Amy Geffen All rights reserved.