Informational interviews. We push them here at Professional Development. But what are they and how do you get them? First off, read the previous posts on where to network so that you can come up with a list of people you’d like to talk to. If you hit it off with someone at a bar function or get a name of an alumni from our office, you can further the relationship by contacting that person and asking for an informational interview.
So, you give the person a call and ask for an appointment where you can spend 20 minutes of his or her time. Or offer to take him/her out for coffee. Whatever works for you. Then plan out your questions. What will you talk about? The person you’ve invited to coffee. People are usually pretty happy to talk about themselves and it seems that lawyers are especially pleased to do so. So take advantage of it. Ask the person about his career and how he made it to partner at a boutique employment practice. Or whatever it is that he’s doing. Ask the person what advice she has for a law student looking to enter the field. Do not ask for a job. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to begin a relationship that, down the road, might lead to a referral or a job lead. But right now, it’s all about what you can learn.
One of the most important questions comes at the end of your meeting. This is when you ask the person who else you should talk to. This is how your network expands. Now, the informational interview may be the only contact you have with this person or it may be the beginning of a relationship that develops over months or years. You don’t know until you follow up—which you should do promptly after the meeting in the form of a thank you note.