The key to messaging someone on LinkedIn for an informational interview is to be professional, personal, and direct. Briefly explain why you are interested in them, customize your ask based on their background, and suggest a quick 20-30 minute call or video chat. Flattering them by expressing admiration for their career can make them more receptive.
Why Request Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are informal conversations to learn about a person’s career path, company, industry, or role. They are not a pitch for a job. The goal is to build connections and gather insider information you can’t find online. This allows you to make more informed career decisions and expand your professional network.
Compared to cold messaging recruiters or applying to job postings, informational interviews have a higher success rate for a few reasons:
- People are flattered you expressed interest in their career and expertise.
- They require less time commitment than formal interviews.
- You are not asking for a job, just advice.
- They enjoy paying it forward by mentoring aspiring professionals.
In summary, thoughtful informational interview requests are well received because they appeal to people’s egos and desire to help others succeed.
Who To Message
Ideal targets for informational interviews include:
- 2nd and 3rd degree LinkedIn connections in your dream companies or roles.
- Professionals in your alumni or industry associations.
- Leaders speaking at events or quoted in articles in your focus area.
- Subject matter experts like authors and bloggers in your function.
Look for people accomplished in their field but accessible enough to respond. C-level executives are less likely to accept due to time constraints. Prioritize those who may remember you from past interactions or share mutual connections that can introduce you.
How To Craft The Right Message
To maximize your response rate, your LinkedIn InMail or message should be:
Address them by name and mention details like where you met them, their recent promotion, or a post they shared. This shows you took the time to notice them as an individual.
2. Direct but Polite:
Briefly explain you are interested in their career insights and expertise. Say you would value the opportunity to connect for a 20-30 minute call to learn more about their journey. Being clear about the purpose and time commitment prevents misunderstandings.
People love talking about themselves. Compliment their accomplishments and explain how it would help you advance your own goals. Appealing to their ego makes them more inclined to accept.
Avoid generic InMails by personalizing your ask to their background. For example, ask a software engineer about their tech stack or designer about their creative process. This shows you respect their specific expertise.
Sample Messaging Templates
Here are some messaging templates you can customize:
My name is [Your Name] and I noticed we’re both connected to [Mutual Connection]. I’ve been very impressed by your career journey at [Company] and success in [Field]. I would love the opportunity to connect for a 20-30 minute call to learn more about your background and experiences in the industry.
Please let me know if you might have time in the next couple weeks for a quick video chat. I’m sure I would gain very valuable insights from your perspective. Thank you in advance for considering!
After Event Template:
It was great meeting you at the [Event Name] last week. The insights you shared on [Topic] were very insightful. I’d love to continue our conversation and learn more about your career journey at [Company].
Would you have 20-30 minutes in the next couple weeks for a quick phone call? I’m interested in learning more about your background and experience in [Industry]. Please let me know if that could work.
I look forward to staying in touch!
Article Follow Up:
I recently read your article on [Topic] and was fascinated by the points you made about [Details]. As someone looking to transition into [Field], your perspective would be tremendously valuable.
If you have 20-30 minutes in the next couple weeks, I would love the opportunity to connect via phone or video chat to hear more about your career journey and lessons learned in the industry. Please let me know if that would be possible.
I look forward to your insights!
Following Up Politely
Expect only 10-30% of people will respond to your outreach since they are busy professionals. For those who do not reply within 1 week, consider sending a brief polite follow up:
I just wanted to follow up on my earlier message in case it got lost in the shuffle. I’m very interested in learning from your experiences in [Field]. If you now have availability for a quick 20-30 minute call, please let me know.
Either way, I appreciate you considering my request. Thank you again for your time.
This shows persistence while still being respectful of their schedule. If they do not respond after 2 outreach attempts, it is best to move on.
What To Ask In The Interview
Once they accept your request, prepare open-ended questions that encourage them to share insights about their career including:
- Can you tell me about your career path and progression?
- What does a typical day or week look like in your role?
- What skills or experience are most valued in your field?
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
- What challenges did you face starting out and how did you overcome them?
- What lessons or advice would you share with someone looking to enter your field?
- How do you recommend networking and meeting people in the industry?
- What professional associations or conferences do you recommend joining?
Listen attentively and ask follow up questions to their responses to show interest. Take notes of their advice and any contacts they refer you to.
Following Up After the Interview
It is important to continue the relationship after your informational interview by:
- Sending a thank you message recapping the key insights you learned.
- Remaining in touch by commenting on their LinkedIn posts, reconnecting at events, and sharing relevant articles.
- Offering to return the favor by making introductions or giving advice to others they refer.
By nurturing these new connections, you build goodwill and expand your professional network. This increases your chances of being top of mind for future job openings and career opportunities.
In summary, here are best practices for informational interview requests on LinkedIn:
- Research target contacts at companies or in roles you admire.
- Personalize your message and compliment their accomplishments.
- Explain you seek a 20-30 minute call to learn from their journey.
- Politely follow up if they do not respond after 1 week.
- Prepare open-ended questions about their background.
- Send a thank you and nurture the relationship long-term.
Approaching informational interviews this way leads to higher response rates while still being professional. They are an effective networking strategy to advance your career over traditional job applications. With practice, you will become comfortable reaching out to new contacts and build a strong professional community.