The purpose of an informational interview is more to learn about the type of industry, company, or the role you are pursuing from a professional in the field. Think of informational interviews as a safe environment to ask specific questions. Not all connections will lead to a referral – and, that’s okay! Be open to the knowledge that some calls will be information gathering and some will lead to referrals.
If someone is willing to spend 30 minutes on the phone with you, this means they saw potential in you and are likely to spend five minutes to send you a referral. Don’t forget to 1. Make an ask, and 2. Go into calls with curiosity, not just as a sales pitch for yourself.
We highly recommend using the framework of five questions along the lines of Daniel Porot’s “Pie Method”:
You can adapt these questions to your purposes; the idea is to help you “spot the roles and fields that match your skills and experience and give you an understanding of how top performers are described.”
Case Study #1: Before my client landed a job at Google, she networked with 3 new people each week, but no one gave her referrals to their companies. Everyone talks about networking as the key to landing interviews, but why wasn’t it working for her? Entitlement. She would set up multiple calls a week, ran through a list of six questions, and would end the calls hoping they would throw her a referral. It took her months of networking to realize that it doesn’t work that way.