You know how helpful it can be to grow your professional network. The majority of jobs out there are unpublished, and the people in your network may be the key to your learning about amazing opportunities. Another powerful benefit of networking is to reassure you that you're heading in the right direction.
You probably have some kind of goal in mind for your career (and if not, let me know and we'll work on your career strategy). But, what if your perfect vision of that future isn't realistic? What if your dream is more like a restless night's sleep? The best way to confirm that what you think your want is what you actually want is to talk to people who are already there.
This step of doing information interviews is a powerful tool. It confirms your plans, grows your network of people in your field of interest, and you can give you invaluable advice and insights.
Despite the benefits, I'm often hearing from clients who are uncomfortable at the thought of reaching out to people they don't know. I totally get it! It's scary to go up to someone you don't know and ask for something. But, if you follow the principles of curiosity, connection and care you'll discover it doesn't need to be painful.
Identify some people who are already in your dream job, have expertise that you want to build up, work at a company you are interested in, made a similar career transition to one you are planning, or who have already done something that you are aspiring to. Then, reach out to them and ask for 20 minutes of their time. Your goal is to have a brief phone call or in-person chat.
How do you do this? What do you say to them in your introductory email? Here’s a sample email that shows the points to hit when you are contacting folks:
You recently spoke to the University of Statesville alumni chapter about social media marketing and I truly enjoyed your perspective.
I’m a marketing manager at Company X, and have been working in the publishing industry for 3 years. My goal is to transition from marketing into social media management, and I’d love the chance to learn more about your career.
Could we schedule a 20-minute informational phone call where we'll chat about your background and current job? This short discussion would be invaluable to me as plan and pursue my career.
Thank you for considering it,
You have nothing to lose. Sure, some people may not respond or may say no. But, others will say yes. I issue you this challenge. Think about what it is you are interested in. What is your dream job or even dream company? Then, think about what skills or expertise you need to have to get there.
Find at least eight people to contact who are in that field, at that company, or have the expertise you want to build. Reach out to them and see what happens. The more of these you do, the easier they will get and the stronger your connections will be.