Contrary to popular belief, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows what you want.
Lucky for you, there’s an easy way to get known. It’s called an informational meeting.
What’s An Informational Meeting?
An informational meeting is an opportunity to meet with someone you can learn from. They are a great way to expand your network, increase your influence, and build your brand.
You could meet with someone:
How To Get An Informational Meeting
The best way to secure an informational meeting is to tap into your existing networks.
Your network includes your family and friends, friends of friends, current or past colleagues, college alumni networks, social networks, people you’ve met at networking events and beyond.
Once you identify people to contact, reach out with a brief email. Introduce yourself, share how you came across them and tell them a little about yourself. From there, ask for 15 minutes of their time for an informational meeting to discuss what you would like to learn from them. Be sure to make this meeting as convenient for them as possible.
Though everyone won’t say yes to your request, you might be surprised how many people will.
What To Do Before The Meeting
Once you secure the meeting, prepare as much as possible. Learn as much about the person, their background and their work. Review their personal website, about.me or LinkedIn page, and any other information you can find about them.
What To Do During The Meeting
During the meeting, the focus should be on them. You are there to learn and to be a sponge. Soak up their wisdom, their experience and their story.
Prepare great questions and have a goal of what you’d like to get out of the meeting. Avoid asking questions that could be answered with a Google search.
The good news is that most of the time, the meeting will shift to you. You'll end up hearing, "Enough about me, what's your story?" When this happens, be prepared to share your story and get them to want to learn more about you and your goals. Even nothing else, what must they know about you so that you'll always be memorable and stand out?
What Not to Do During The Meeting
This is the most important thing you’ll read in this post: do not ask for a job during an informational meeting. If you do, you will immediately lose any good will or trust that you’ve built. Instead, be so impressive that they want to learn more.
Three Things To Do When The Meeting Ends
First, when the meeting comes to an end always ask, “Is there anyone else you think I should meet with?”. If you impressed them by your preparation and questions, they will gladly refer you to someone for another informational meeting. Recommendations are powerful and can open doors to new connections.
Second, always send a handwritten thank you card. Taking the time to purchase a card, write something thoughtful, and then mail it at the post office is priceless. Sure, you can send an email, but it’s better not to be delete-able.
Third, stay in touch. When you have major updates to share or find something that can create value for the person, share this with them.
Remember, people enjoy helping others. I have always been amazed by people’s willingness to help strangers. Odds are that someone helped them in their career, and they are now willing to reciprocate. You can be that someone.
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