More crucially, you can build relationships that may lead to being referred to hiring managers.
How can you keep in touch and continue the relationship (without being perceived as a pest)?
Spoiler alert: I’m not going to suggest you send them articles!
Let’s say you had an informational interview with Samantha, who does work similar to yours at a company you’re interested in. She has offered you some advice.
Samantha is more likely to feel like her time was well spent – and more likely to want to offer additional advice or leads in the future – if you report back to her on how the advice was useful. That way she feels like she really made a difference.
Before you even leave the meeting, thank her and say “I’ll let you know how this works out.” About a week later, send her an email or card mentioning how you followed up on her advice and what the results have been. Having made a commitment to follow up, you will be perceived as following through on a commitment. No peskiness involved!
And where do you go from there?
Steve Dalton, the author of one of my favorite job search books, The 2-Hour Job Search, answered this question in a discussion in his Q&A forum on LinkedIn:
After you’ve updated your contact a couple of weeks with the status of any referral they gave you (or if they did not give you one), you switch the contact to a recurring monthly check-in. The first monthly check-in should consist of three items:
1) Recap that best piece of advice or insight they gave you
2) Give a specific example of how you benefited from that advice
3) Ask if they have additional advice
If they don’t have further advice, you make future monthly check-ins more personal, inquiring about vacations & kids, etc., but always thanking them for their advice & asking for more. This reminds them you’re still searching, and prompts them for action.
If you’re still having a hard time asking for something, read Dalton’s Huffington Post article about a phenomenon well known to social psychologists, called the Ben Franklin Effect – whereby politely asking someone for a small favor – and following up appropriately afterwards – can actually cause them to offer more help in future than if you had done a favor for them!
Make the most of your informational interviews by turning them into ongoing relationships. This will be far more fruitful – in your job search and even after – than a one-time coffee date that is quickly forgotten.