The importance of informational interviews by Danielle April Boucher

danielleI prefer to call them  informational meetings, but that’s beside the point. I mention informational meetings in my Roadmap for Job Search Success workshop as a great source for gathering information, gaining leads, and perhaps hitting the jackpot. By this, I mean being there when the company may be in the process of looking for someone like you.

I digress, because what I want to do is share a blog post by someone who I think is a great writer and promising PR pro. She shares in her post below some sage advice on the importance of informational interviews (I prefer informational meetings).

Posted by Danielle April Boucher
Here is my follow-up post on Informational Interviews. You can find the first one on how to do informational interview here.
Thus far I have done 7 informational interviews and have met a significant number of different PR professionals from my area and have learned from first-hand experience. Completing 7 info interviews might seem like a lot, but once you get into the groove of contacting people you get good at it; it becomes easy and natural. I found that I wasn’t able to meet some people face to face and so I did some Skype and phone interviews as well.
Each type had its own feel, but because I was prepared and they were willing to help me, they all went smoothly. The key is making sure the info interviews are helping you and not stressing you out. So while I recommend that all graduating students do some, 7 might not be feasible for everyone. That being said, I have gathered some interesting insights from a variety of people from different areas of the PR industry. Because I believe in helping my peers and because I want to give my readers some value, I will share what these PR professionals so generously shared with me about the skills you need in PR and the advice they have for grads.
Essential Skills for PR 
(Other than writing and communication) 
  1. Business savvy. You need to understand your business, your organization’s priorities and how PR functions within the overall profitability of the business. This means not getting distracted by personal motives or caught up in the PR side without considering the business side.
  2. Data management. One of the interviewees told me “The person who has data wins.” In PR, evaluation is everything, so data is essential. The data points to what is working, what is not, why you do certain things and why you don’t do others. When analyzed properly, data is valuable information that can be leveraged to justify what you do, how you do it, and most importantly why it works!
  3. Perceptive abilities. In PR your job should not just be coming up with ideas, but seeing holes in plan where others may miss. The ability to anticipate reactions, needs, disasters and gaps where others can’t is what will separate you from others. This is why knowing who your stakeholders are key!
Advice for PR Students and Grads 

  • Volunteer work is a great way to build your portfolio and skills.
  • Finding a mentor is a great way to learn about your career goals.
  • Join professional organizations to make networking easier.
  • Network and build valuable connections whether it is in-person or via social media.
  • Keep in contact with people you meet; following-up is essential (this means following up with the people you do informational interview with).
  • Stay open to opportunities – say yes and always follow through.
  • Dress the part. No matter what you should look respectable; it shows that you care and that you pay attention to the little details.
  • Make a plan of your goals and be specific. Writing them down makes you more accountable to yourself.
  • Do something every day that will bring you closer to your goals. This will build your momentum and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • You don’t get, if you don’t ask – this requires you to reach out and be proactive in seeking out opportunities.
  • Know what you are asking for (i.e. meeting or job) and know what your give is. When asking for something, make sure you can return the value in some way.

Finally, the great thing I learned from doing informational interviews is how to be confident when meeting people. I feel so much more comfortable in interview settings now and with cold calling people too. I also learned some great advice as shared here!

I hope this helped and if you have advice to share, please comment below. And let me know, how do you feel about informational interviews?

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