When I was transitioning from the NYSE, I was kinda lost about what I wanted to do next. There were so many new industries I was discovering, so many fields I didn't have a formal education in and a slew of job postings that I wanted to apply to.
But how did I actually know those jobs would be good for me?
I didn't. What I did know was that I spent the previous three years doing work that wasn't necessarily aligned with my strengths or skill set. And at times it felt soul-sucking. I wanted to make sure that the next job I took would be more fulfilling - and I was determined to figure out exactly what that meant for me.
So I did what I did best: I talked to people. To a LOT of people.
I spent 6 months meeting with people from a variety of different industries. Some of them I knew through my personal and professional network, but most of them I met through blindly reaching out to on LinkedIn. Through that process, I was able to discern what lines of work sounded most interesting to me, where I had transferable skills and how to jump into those industries. It was invaluable experience. I actually still talk to a lot of those people regularly.
Keeping up with your network is the #1 thing you should be doing in your career
I don't care if you are looking for a job or not - building your network can only help you. It takes effort, but the effort is worth it. I've met great mentors, landed jobs and even friends through this process. If you put yourself out there, you never know what may circle around.
Okay okay. So you're sold on informational interviews and networking. So where's the template? Never fear, I'm a woman of my word. Here is the email template I used to land multiple informational interviews that resulted in my resume getting submitted, full-fledged interviews and real-world advice that was invaluable to my professional education.
Cold email template (customize as you see fit)
Hi there [name]!
I know this is kind of random, but I came across your profile when researching [company name]. I'm interested in potentially working for [company], but I want to make sure I fit in/like the culture! Work-life balance, growth potential and professional development are all important to me, so I want to make sure the next company I invest in will be investing back into me as well.
If you have a couple minutes (10-15?) over the next couple of weeks, I'd love to briefly chat with you about your experience at [company]! No pressure of course if you can't.
Thanks and looking forward to hearing back from you!
P.S. [insert commonality between you and her/him from their LinkedIn]
Who you should target
You should always talk to people in the department you're interested in working for. Remember, a recruiter isn't actually going to give you the job, a hiring manager is. So! If you're looking to work in marketing, talk to someone with the same job title you're targeting or one level above. This way, you know you're talking to people who actually understand the day-to-day.
Pleasant persistence is key. If someone doesn't respond to you after a week, briefly follow up with another email or message. For me, I always have people reach out to me and I honestly forget. People are busy and as much as you'd like to be....you're not their first priority. I've found that it's those that are kind in their follow ups that get a response back from me.
This week, reach out to 5 NEW people you've never talked to. Maybe you're looking for a job or maybe you're just looking to broaden your network - connect with someone new this week! It's imperative for the stability, growth and trajectory of your career.