August 28, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Informational Interviews

A few weeks ago I attended a meeting where the speaker discussed informational interviews.  When you ask someone for an interview to gather information regarding their company or industry or how they reached their status in business, you are asking for an informational interview.

So what do informational interviews and appreciation marketing have in common?  When you request an informational interview, you are asking for someone to share information with you.  We have discussed before that information is power, but it is up to you to use that power.  This type of interview is no different; accept the knowledge and the power that goes with it.

Asking for an informational interview is asking someone to share their thoughts, their beliefs, and some facts with you.  Come prepared to ask questions that are based on solid research on your part.  Do not fail to do your home work on the person that you are meeting, their company, and their background.  This interview is a chance to learn; make sure that you do so.  The internet is your best friend in this research.

If the company is your point of interest, you need to learn about its culture, its history, the industry, and how your source fits into the organization.  You may want to ask your source to recommend and help you obtain additional sources of information.  You may also want your source to recommend others in the company, or outside of it, to research the industry itself.

If you are seeking information about the person whom you are interviewing, ask questions that allow you to learn what follow up questions you should ask; then build on those opportunities.  When you put someone in the position of an expert, you are flattering them greatly; make the interview meaningful, and appreciate their time.

Try to make it a mutually beneficial event.  It also can benefit the person providing the information, if you can bring something to the meeting other than questions.  That may simply be your interest in the meeting subject or your research that you did prior to meeting.  Share that information and see if that encourages further conversation.

Sometimes you may be able to offer something that may benefit your source.  Don’t try to hard to provide something; let it flow easily from the interview discussion.  Also, don’t use the interview as a job interview for yourself.  If there is a possibility of that result, it will happen, and will benefit everyone.  You have paved the way for this by your research and meaningful questions.

Do not be surprised if your source asks you questions about yourself, your aspirations, and your background.  Let the information flow as easily as you would want it to come to you.  Be truthful, concise, and forthcoming.  You never know where these discussions may lead.  Lead with your intent to obtain information, and you may find out more than you dreamed.

Never treat an informational interview as less important than a job interview.  Dress accordingly, be on time with your researched questions, don’t waste your source’s time, and follow up with a polite thank you card.  If you can assist your source with a referral or information later, do it.  If you have answers to inquiries from your source, provide them.

Informational interviews may be two way examples of appreciation marketing.  How do you feel about this?  Your comments here, or in emails at, or in calls at 360-314-8691 are very important to me and provide subjects for future postings.  Thank you for your input and opinions.  Want an informational interview?  Call me.

1 comment:

  1. Good article, Jim. I would like to add--When you call, say "Frank, I need some advice. Wondering if I could meet you for coffee for about one-half hour?"

    People appreciate being considered an authority. So (a) you made them feel good (b) They know how long you expect the coffee date to last.

    If you do those two things, seldom do you get a turn down.