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The Laid Off IT Guy! The Information Interview

Here is a great networking idea.  When you meet someone that you are interested in networking with, that you think might be well connected, even if they aren’t hiring, ask for an information interview.  OK, don’t come right out and it call it that, but that is really what you are doing. Find out if they’d be willing to talk to you for 30 minutes or an hour about their career and the company they work for and see where it leads you.

Here is a neat experience that happened this week.  The neighbor across my backyard works for a reputable professional services firm in town.  I asked him how the company was doing, if was happy, and if he knew about any open positions in IT.  He didn’t know but was nice enough to take a copy of my resume and send it to their IT Director.

She emailed a nice reply that they weren’t looking for anyone in IT right now.  Normally, that’d be the end of it, right?  Well, advice from the job search manual that I received from my Career Consultant (see blog post #2 from The Laid Off IT Guy!) indicated that I should take that opportunity to expand my network.

Here was my reply:

Hello Susan,

I appreciate your follow up.  I anticipated that you might not have any openings.  I’d be very interested in talking to you about IT in your firm.  Would you have any time to meet with me next week to discuss the similarities and differences in the Professional Services industry comparing your firm to [my prior firm]?  I imagine the cultures are similar and it might be a parallel avenue for me to pursue, even if not with your firm.

I’d enjoy networking with a fellow peer, as well, perhaps around lunch?  If you are agreeable, please suggest a date/time.

She didn’t have lunch time available, but invited me downtown to their high rise and we had an enjoyable conversation without any of the pressures associated with a regular job interview.  I was able to impress her with my skill set, in case anything in the future should turn up, but more importantly, I asked her if she knew anyone else that I should meet, as well as to think of me if her firm has clients that tell her that they need some additional Senior IT Leadership.

Mind you that I did not ask her for a job or even insinuate that I was hoping to persuade her to create a position for me.  I took genuine interest in her success of 20 years as head of IT for the firm and took notes about how many people she has and what their specialties are, etc.

Make networking happen for you.  Get out of the house.  Go talk to people. Have some meaningful conversations every day.  Don’t just sit behind the computer and hope that opportunity will come knocking on your door.

 Let me hear from you.  Have you used the approach of the Information Interview to your success before?  Please share with our readers by posting your comments!

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