Subject: Informational Request
I hope you’re weekend was pleasant
My name is — and I’m a —- here at —–. I have a strong interest in on-air reporting, news-writing and production and would love to talk to you about your role at E! and gain more insight about the field.
Would it be possible to schedule an informational with you sometime in the near future? If you’re busy, I understand.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The e-mail above popped in my inbox recently and prompted me to write this post. If you’re asking someone in a position above you to give up some of their time to benefit you…that’s essentially what an informational meeting is about. These meetings can lead to jobs, other opportunities, connections, etc. In general they only directly benefit the one who makes “the ask”. Baring that in mind, you should be thoughtful when sending out these e-mails. They may be the first, last, and only communication you have with someone you admire. Put your best foot forward! I’m going to use the above e-mail to break down a few ‘do’s and don’ts’ of asking for an informational meeting.
Think of the subject line as your headline. While many can appreciate a straightforward approach, the one above isn’t very enticing. Nothing makes me want to click and read the e-mail. All it says is that someone wants something from me. While we would hope people will see it and be excited to help someone else, you never know what kind of day/week/year someone is having. The sweetest person can be turned off by an e-mail with “a request” because it can look like another person wanting something from them or adding to their load. If someone referred you to this person, mention that in the subject. If you met in person somewhere, mention that in the subject. If you went to the same college, mention that in the subject. If there is any significant common factor between you and the person whose attention you are trying to catch, make it hard to miss! That will get your e-mail to be opened and give you a shot to make your pitch.
Don’t think that an informational meeting is a mandate. It’s a privilege. No one is required to meet with you just because you want them to, so you have got to show them why you are worth their time! In the above e-mail, the writer didn’t tell me anything about themselves. I know they want to be on-camera and that’s about it. Yawn! Nowadays everyone wants to be on camera. What makes you different? There are so many things that she could have included. Going back to what I mentioned about common factors, if the writer mentioned their college I would have been excited to see that they also attended a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities). At the very least, attach a resume to your e-mail. This is especially important if no one introduced you to the person you are e-mailing. With a cold e-mail you have to go that much further to make someone want to meet you. You’re a stranger to them.
If they don’t know you and then you get your information wrong, good luck getting any response. I don’t work for E! I never have. I work for Access Hollywood. You have to do your research. It takes 2 seconds to do a google search. Know who you are trying to talk to. It will impress them with how genuine your interest is and gives you ways to appeal to them. The e-mail sent was too generic. It looks like it could have been cut and pasted it to numerous people. It’s okay if that’s your game plan , just don’t make it obvious. Make each e-mail personal and specific to that person.
The point of an informational meeting is to make a personal connection. That starts with a personal e-mail. That does not mean a ten page synopsis of your hopes and dreams. This e-mail was a great length, short and concise, but it missed the mark when it came to laying the foundation for a personal connection.
Finally, end strong! After the ask was made, “Would it be possible to schedule an informational with you sometime in the near future?”
They gave me a way out!
“If you’re busy, I understand.” Don’t put in the work pitching yourself and then say you aren’t worth making time for. Many women, myself included, are conditioned to speak and write like this. Stop it! Be strong. You’re amazing! Also, ending the e-mail saying “I look forward to hearing from you” is weak. If you throw the ball to a busy person, they aren’t going to drop whatever they are juggling to catch it! Be proactive. “Are you available for coffee sometime next week?” Now you’ve given a time frame and activity, so I can envision what is feasible. Make it easy if you want a yes!
I can’t stress how impactful an informational meeting can be! I wouldn’t be where I am now without having 948976845778 informational meetings over the years. People want to help others succeed…but you need to put a little heart and a little effort in to your approach. Good luck and feel free to tweet me if you have any questions @VivaciouslyViv!