5 Ways to Find Connections for Informational Interviews

Think of creating your informational interview list like building your own team. Who do you want to reach out to senior year when you're prepping for your dream interview? Who can help connect you to the right people? Who is going to believe in you?
Of course, you want to make sure this group is diverse. Sure, it’s great to have the CEO of a company on your side, but don’t paint yourself into a corner. Reach out to people at different levels, from first-year associates to mid-level managers to senior executives. That way you'll get a broader understanding of the industry and how a career might evolve.
So how do you start building contacts for your informational interview list? We say go for broke and don't be afraid of rejection, but here are our top five ways to make connections:

  1. Ask your parents. Your parents know you better than almost anyone. Plus, they've been around the block enough to have met many people in various industries. And, of course, they'll probably talk you up, which will make it more likely for the person to agree to it and to lend a further hand down the road.

  2. Ask your advisor, other professors, and the college career center. These people are here for a reason: to help you. So take advantage of the resources you have. And if a professor is willing to connect you to someone for an informational interview, that will reflect well on you.

  3. Network within your school's community. We're talking about school alumni, co-curricular groups, Greek organizations—whatever smaller community you're a part of. These types of communities share a bond that makes people in them likely to help each other out.

  4. Use LinkedIn. If no one you know has connections that might be helpful for your informational interviews, you'll need to do the legwork yourself. Search major industry associations and companies through LinkedIn to find profiles of people with careers you're interested in. Then reach out through InMail (or via email, if they provide it).

  5. Use social media. It might seem less professional, but as more people are presenting their professional identities on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, identifying people through these channels can work wonders. Plus, it gives you a lot of talking points once you do meet because you'll be able to discuss their work as you've seen it on social media.

In the end, people love to feel helpful. If they can make a connection for you that will help you further your career, they'll do it in the blink of an eye. So use the networks you have and it's sure to result in valuable informational interviews.

Bob Carlton