Lessons Learned in Spring Training…I Mean Informational Interviews
I’ve gotten just about all of my jobs through networking. I literally have spent enough time meeting and greeting at Starbucks to qualify for an honorary barista degree. These meetings, however, are about a lot more than lattes and cappuccinos. You should think of every person you meet on an informational interview, as a travel agent who could hold the ticket for your next job. Below, you will find my short list of reasons why these sessions will be beneficial for finding your next job.
Key Benefits to Informational Interviews:
- They allow you to see what you don’t want as much as what you do want. For example, about one month ago, I had an informational interview with an in-house attorney at a growing startup. Even though, I go by the name, “Legally Free”, technically, I’m not free, just yet. In any case, there is a common belief among attorneys that you can smoothly transition out of law by becoming in-house counsel for a company, as you are exposed on a daily basis to the business terms and the people who create them. When I inquired as to whether this particular attorney was involved in the business decisions of the company, she essentially told me that she was there to build the company’s legal infrastructure but otherwise, was not involved in any type of strategy or business development. Even though, there were no openings with this company, the meeting was productive because I realized that I did not want to just become an in-house attorney…I wanted to pursue a more business-focused role.
- It’s a preseason warm-up game out there. You can practice your pitch, make plenty of errors and not worry about losing the game. One of the best meetings I ever had was with a CEO who moved from banking to the startup world several years ago. He could easily relate to the difficulties encountered in transitioning careers. About one minute into my pitch, he stopped and questioned my motivation. He then singlehandedly picked apart every piece of my pitch until I felt like I was about two feet tall. I left feeling pretty dejected but nevertheless relieved because I had a very important meeting with a venture capitalist two days later. The following day, I created a new pitch taking into account the constructive criticism I learned the day before. I practiced all day long and the following day, the VC complimented me on my approach and agreed to make two introductions.
- It’s a good way to get allies. Allies may turn out to be your best friends. They typically won’t have a job waiting for you when you meet but these are the people, whom if you make a good impression, will go through their rolodex and make introductions to contacts who may otherwise not respond to you…and these contacts may have job openings…or know of others who do have job openings. Plus, if the ally likes you, he/she will also advocate on your behalf and may give you other meaningful feedback.
- You get the experience of having met a number of people. You may think this last one sounds pretty hokey and non-substantive but I beg to differ. At some point, you will score your next gig. When you do, you will remember how many people you met with over the course of the search. The sense of accomplishment will be a great boost for your ego and guess what? At some point, you may be looking for a job again. Or, you may now just be growing sales for your present company. In either case, you will be perfectly poised to move forward, with full confidence, because of all your prior networking experience! Success in prior experience always informs our future efforts.
So go out there. Meet and greet, drink a lot of coffee, pitch a lot of people and recruit allies. Soon enough, you’ll be out of spring training and in the big leagues.
Legally Free is a blogger for StrengthsInsight and an attorney at law in the midst of a career transition. As he makes his way through his transition, he is sharing his insights into his journey of ditching his former legal career and rediscovering his love for innovative business, new and interesting people and having fun.
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