Finding people to have informational interviews with can feel overwhelming and intimidating but it doesn’t have to be.
As with most things, I encourage people to start with what’s easy. Who do you know already, and who do they know? Most of us have vague ideas of what our loved ones do, but we don’t have much in the way of details. So start with a socially distanced drink with a friend, for instance, or maybe coffee with your mom, and ask questions: “I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’m in a career transition and I realize I don’t really understand what you do. What’s a normal day at work like for you?” Then be prepared to talk about what you want to do next, in fairly concrete and understandable ways. (This means don’t go on about how you love abstract problem-solving, but mention some industries or specific tasks you think you’d enjoy so they can These conversations are usually easier than more formal ones since you already know the person you’re talking with, so it’s a nice way to start and not feel too intimidated. And you might learn that someone close to you knows people you want to meet!
Once you’ve picked that low-hanging fruit, it’s time to start finding other folks to talk with. If you know an organization or title you’d like, things are easier. You can, for instance, look for people on LinkedIn and connect that way. Just be sure you include a personalized note when you ask to connect so they know why you’re reaching out. You can also use Facebook groups and alumni networks to find people. If you’re feeling stuck, drop me a note, and if you have other suggestions, add them in the comments!