This is the second post in a series on informational interviewing for beginners. Catch up with Part 1: What is an informational interview?

I find most informational interviews through one of three avenues:

1. Recommendations from previous interviews. This is how I’ve found most of my informational interviews, though I concede that this strategy is not that helpful for someone looking for their first one.

2. Connections through networks. At first I didn’t relate to the concept of networking; to me it implied ownership of business cards and power suits. But it turns out I do have networks – everyone does – and they have been very helpful in finding interviews. This may be a little easier for me because I am currently living in my hometown, but the networks I use are: high school alumni association, college alumni association, neighbors, friends of parents, friends of friends, and a Seattle event-based networking service called Zealyst*. I find it easier to ask for an informational interview in person, like at an alumni event, but often these connections have happened electronically, and I’ve had to initiate the request via email (more on that in the next post)

3. Chance encounters. My favorite random connection happened at the finish line of a long bike ride, where my friend ran into a parent of her friend, and this person was someone I had found earlier on LinkedIn and hoped to meet. We exchanged information and I met with her a week later. The point here is that being open to making connections wherever you go can pay off.

Finding an informational interview can be a more focused process if you know the field or company you’d like to be in. Being open to meeting people in a variety of careers has helped me connect with dozens of professionals, and I hope that when I do know what kind of work I’d like to do, this network leads me to more focused connections.

* Zealyst is a Seattle startup that organizes meet-ups across the city, with each invitation-based “huddle” individually designed to foster connections between Zealyst members. Their software algorithms tailor these events to the interests, vocations, and personalities of their members in order to build more meaningful relationships. Check out their website for more information and contact me if you’d like an invitation.