You’ve gone to several informational interviews, you’ve cold called people and you’ve sat down to more informational interviews. Great. But don’t forget the art of the follow-up.
Sure you probably remember to send a thank you e-mail or hand written note, immediately following the meeting. You might keep it short and polite, while rehashing at least one piece of helpful information the person shared. But there is more to following up than a few lines scribbled on a page.
When I started job searching here in St. Louis, before going full-time freelance, I went on once informational interview that offered one surprising tidbit of information. The woman, who worked in PR for a major company in the city, said she was surprised at the lack of follow-up with people she has sat down with. She told me, “If I say, ‘update me in a few weeks to let me know how the search is going,’ I’m not just being nice. I’d like to know how you’ve progressed.”
According to this person, many people she has met with tend to drop off the planet entirely, or may resurrect only to ask if they have any leads six months down the line. Not good!
If a contact tells you to keep them informed, do so. Shoot them a short note after you’ve met with a contact they gave you. E-mail when you have an interview lined up with a company they are familiar with and ask for a piece of advice. Or if you have nothing significant to report write that.
This is not to say badger the person. But you want to put yourself in the forefront of their mind every once in a while. They might never respond to you or they might shoot back one line. But there is that off chance that they heard of an opening that day and because you sent an e-mail the contact has now submitted your name to the applicant pool.
You’ll be able to judge how often to contact a source by the words they write and the way they respond. If you simply get a ‘nice to hear from you’ response without signature, don’t spend your time write that contact often. If several lines of encouragement and advice, make sure to go back to that person.