Last week I wrote about informational interviews – what they are and how to get the most out of them. But I don’t want to leave out one of the most important parts of your informational interview…the informational interview thank you note or letter.
I once spent an hour and a half on the phone with someone who had asked me for an informational interview. He was thinking of starting a new business related to job search and interview advice. I actually enjoy informational interviews and thought his idea was interesting, so I agreed to speak with him wearing both my informational interview hat and my business consultant hat. (Luckily it’s a two-sided hat.) I did my best to answer all his questions and offer advice based on my experiences. And he seemed to be lapping it up.
But here’s the thing…he never said thank you to me. Not on the phone or by way of a thank you letter, thank you note or even thank you e-mail. I think by his response, a lot of what I said landed nicely. But even if my info sucked dude…make sure you say “thank you!”
So am I telling you this just to hear myself rant?
Look. I enjoy helping and I don’t do it for the awards or accolades…I do it because it feels good. But a simple thank you is basic business networking 101! So the way you say thank you – or not saying it at all – tells me something about what you are like to work with.
Seriously…would I ever again help this person whom I now know stands a good chance of being just as thoughtless to others? Not very likely. One bridge burned. And that’s what happens when you don’t write an informational interview thank you note!
Thank you for listening to my rant.
Now back to writing an informational thank you note…
I am pretty sure very few of you would ever forget to send a thank you note if someone took time out of their busy day to give you an informational interview. I just included that in case you thought it wasn’t a big deal. It is. And it reflects on you as a person.
So does the type of thank you matter?
You usually can’t go wrong by just making sure you thank the person politely in some way. Although going overboard with gifts or overly-gushy sentiments might be pushing it too far.
But there might also be something more you can accomplish with your thank you note. At the very least, it’s one more point of contact.
The good enough thank you note: Most people are happy just to get a nice card or short hand-written letter with the words “thank you” in your own handwriting. (NOTE: If it’s a card, I would suggest NOT sending a Hallmark-type card with icky pre-written words inside. It’s your own words that matter most.) E-mail is also ok…although I think snail mail says it even better because it shows you took the time to do something extra thoughtful.
But I think it pays to go the extra step: Thank you is a good start. But try thinking of another sentence or two to really land the message.
And while you’re at it…mean it. Stuff like that shows. No one has to help you. But if someone does agree to make time to give you an informational interview, it’s usually from the heart. And a sincere thank you note that maybe includes some specifics you learned during the informational interview (so the person knows you actually got something out of it) goes a long long way!
Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but networking – and business in general – works best when you do it with respect and appreciation. Plus you never know who they know or where you might run into them again. And quite honestly…how you handle the thank you note – and the informational interview in general – reflects on what you have to offer a potential employer.
So don’t just think of the thank you note as some obligation or after-thought. Treat it as one more chance to connect and make a lasting impression. And the best way to do that is by being direct, sincere and to the point. Flowery formal language may look nice, but a short, heartfelt note has a better chance of connecting in a way that lives on.
Good luck. And of course…thank you!
NOTE: I’m still on break. This post is being brought to you by the magic of advanced scheduling!
From the Work Coach Cafe Career Dictionary
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.