Here are ten ways to conduct effective information meetings in your job search:
#1 – Put your networking skills to work (social media, personal contact list). Identify people who can add to your knowledge about your job search targets (industries, companies, positions). Use the power and ease of electronic communications to make contact—an email is perfect!
#2 – In your email, letter or call, mention any connections you have in common. Keep your message light and polite. Ask for their guidance and insight, not a job.
#3 – Explain why you are reaching out. “We have a common connection in ‘Clay Smith,’ I was an usher at his wedding. He thought you would be a good person for me to speak with who might be able to give me some advice on ___. Would you be open to a conversation?”
#4 – Keep it light. When you meet (optimal) or have your networking phone call (2nd choice) keep it light and make sure your new contact knows that you are not asking for a job.
#5 – Bring a prepared list of questions (very important). You’ve done your research about their company and their position. Show how knowledgeable you are about what’s going on there and what they’re facing. This meeting is about them: their ideas, their perceptions, and their insights. Take copious notes!
#6 – Ask questions about the person with whom you are speaking. Show interest in them, “What brought you to IBM? Were you always interested in xxx?” “When did you know that you wanted to work with computers?” Getting people to talk about themselves is an important skill to cultivate and goes a long way in establishing a good rapport with others.
#7 – If you asked for 20 minutes, keep it to 20 minutes. Show that you respect their time, “I promised that I would take 20 minutes, and our time is just about up.” Their response will indicate whether they are able/interested in extending the discussion.
#8 – If you are asked for a resume during the meeting, use your judgment. The contact could be quite interested in you and you could look ill prepared if you did not have such a vital job-hunting tool with you. If you are not in full job-search mode, and are truly at the exploratory phase, offer to email it after your meeting.
#9 -As you bring the meeting to a close, thank them for their time. Ask for an additional contact with, “Is there someone else whose opinion you respect that I might speak with for their advice?” If they make a recommendation, ask if it is all right to use their name when making your outreach.
#10 – Always send a personal thank you immediately after your meeting (an important career management practice). Yes, it’s all about electronics now, but what do you open first when the mail arrives? The pre-printed envelopes or the personally addressed handwritten ones? Don’t miss an opportunity to be memorable!