When job searching, it is often useful to reach out to successful people in your career field for advice. Your connections can be a valuable source of industry information and may be able to provide you with job leads.
These relationships are meaningful even if you are happy with your job — you can turn to successful people in your industry for help strategizing your next career move, discussing trends, and determining where you need to develop skills or experience.
Setting up an informational interview or informational meeting can be a great way to meet people in your field and get advice on your career and/or job search.
How to Request a Meeting
What's the best way to request a meeting? The best approach is to send an email, letter, or LinkedIn message in which you'll want to explain who you are (if you don't know the person well), how you were referred, and what you're seeking.
See these additional tips for how to write a letter requesting an informational meeting:
- Introduce Yourself: It is always important to begin a letter requesting a meeting with a summary of how you know the person. If you are already friends or close associates, you do not need a long introduction. However, if you do not know the person well, remind him or her how you met (if you did), or how you heard of him or her.
If a mutual friend or colleague put you in touch, mention that person's name in the first paragraph of the letter.
- Describe Your Skills and Experience (Briefly): Explain your experience and skills as related to your industry. You want to show the recipient that you are serious about your career. However, you also want to keep this section brief. You may consider attaching your resume for reference if the reader may want to know more.
- Explain What You Are Looking For: Provide a polite but concrete statement saying what you are asking for. Would you like to meet to discuss the industry generally? Would you like advice on your portfolio? Do you have questions about the person’s company? However, do not say you want help finding a job unless this is a cold contact cover letter. The goal of this letter is to learn more about your industry and how you can improve your skills and/or your job search.
- Keep It Short and Professional: Do not go on for too long — keep the letter to one page or less. This person is likely very busy and does not have the time to read a long letter. That being said, you still want your language to be polite and professional. Be sure to proofread your letter before sending it. Write your letter in a proper business letter format. See the sample letters below for an example.
Letter Samples to Ask for an Informational Meeting
You can use this sample as a model to write a letter requesting an informal meeting. Download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.
Sample Letter Requesting a Meeting
This is an example of a letter requesting a meeting to get career advice. In this example, the letter writer already has years of experience and is reaching out to a successful member of his or her industry for insight and suggestions.
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Firstname Lastname,
For the past 10+ years I have followed your career through news events, interviews, and web research. Your dedication to the media and your understanding of the important role journalists play in today's fast-paced information highway, coupled with your belief in the power of the press, is exemplary. In addition, I know you were a student at Columbia with John Smith, my journalism professor at Missouri State.
I have had the privilege of honing my journalistic abilities on three widely different publications. When I left college, I immediately went to work for the typical small town newspaper and learned all aspects of getting the paper to the people in a timely manner. I then moved to regional manager for a media corporation composed of small to mid-size newspapers in the Midwest. In my current position, I am Chief Correspondent for one of the largest newspapers in the southwest.
I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to visit with you to get your insight and suggestions on where my skills and abilities would be of the greatest value to the journalist field, not only newspapers but other mediums as well.
The week of March 15 - 19, I will be in New York City. I'd like to visit with you and get your feedback on my writing ability, along with suggestions on where my skills would be of the greatest value from your point of view. I do have a portfolio of my work that I will have with me.
Thank you so much for your time. I will call your office to set up a convenient time. I do look forward to meeting you.
Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name
Sample Email Requesting a Meeting
Here is an example of an email requesting a meeting. It includes the writer's qualifications and experience, the reason for writing, as well as a request for an appointment.
Subject: Meeting Request - Mikael Blue
Dear Ms. Jobina:
Buster Brown, my current supervisor at CDC's Epidemiology and Surveillance Division, National Immunization Program, suggested that I contact you to learn more about the National SIDS & Infant Death Program Support Center. I will earn my Master of Public Health degree from the School of Public Health of Wonderful University in May, and possess strong experience in Maternal and Child Health. My hope is to learn more in-depth information about your organization than is available via the internet or publications produced by the Center.
I am planning a trip to Baltimore in the next month or so and hope you will be available to meet with me at a time that is convenient for you while I am in town. As I am sure you are very busy, I have provided some selected information about my skills and experience for your information.
Highlights of Qualifications
- Top-notch analytical and research protocol aptitudes including: mathematical modeling, data gathering, and organizational abilities
- Knowledge of socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity issues pertaining to public health
- Creative problem solver and effective team player
- Computer skills include SAS, EpiInfo, SUDAAN, MINITAB, Freelance Graphics, Paradox
My experience includes work for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, New York City Department of Health Currently. As an intern, I learned a great deal about SIDS while analyzing data to support community needs assessments for the Department of Health and community program development. Currently, I am an ASPH/CDC/ATSDR Intern for Vaccine Safety and Development Activity at CDC. In this position, I coordinate development of standard follow-up protocols, as well as evaluate indicators of socioeconomic status in the Vaccine Safety Datalink project.
Post-graduation, I hope to have the opportunity to use these and other skills to work in the area of Maternal and Child Health. I hope you, or a member of your staff, will be able to spend some time discussing your programs and exciting, new initiatives. I will contact you the week of February 1st to try to arrange a meeting.
1234 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30329
Follow-Up After the Meeting
If your letter is successful it will lead to a conversation — either in person or on the phone. After your meeting, make sure to follow up. If you're not already connected on LinkedIn, make sure to add the person to your network.
You'll also want to express your appreciation for the person taking the time to meet. Get details on what to include in a thank you note for an informational interview.