Informational Interviews for Introverts: A Cheat Sheet

Dear Val:
“I hear informational interviews are important so I can explore career and business ideas, but how does that work? Huh? What? Who do I ask? What do I say? They’ll think I’m weird…”
~from almost every introvert I talk to (at first)

Yes, asking people questions about their path is such a helpful step in finding your own path. And yet, it seems awkward, at first, for many introverts.

Informational interviews are good for when you’re exploring career ideas, business ideas, new niche ideas for your business, retirement ideas, and more. There’s so much gold in there.

I hate seeing so many people get stuck on this step. Let’s make this simple, right here and now.

There are particular concerns that I notice introverts raise about informational interviews. Do you recognize these?

  1. Won’t I be bothering the person if I ask them to speak with me?
  2. How can I find people to interview?
  3. I can’t just cold call some stranger I found online!
  4. I don’t know what to ask. I’ll be tongue-tied.
  5. I don’t know enough about the field to ask good questions. I’ll sound stupid.
  6. I don’t know what I’m planning to do yet, so I’ll seem unfocused.
  7. Is it a call, a lunch invitation, what? What’s the etiquette?

First I’ll give my short answer to each of those classic concerns, then I’ll elaborate and give you some basic steps including what to ask.

Elephants showing us an informational interview

It could be as sweet and simple as this.

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LinkedIn Profile Essentials: Why and How

It’s time for a post about LinkedIn because I’m spending a lot of time explaining it. Even people who have been using it a while are not using it as well as they could be. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t use it, or if you don’t use it well. It’s not just for stuffy “businessy” people. You’ll find plenty of heart-centered people in there.

And it doesn’t take much time at all! There’s really no down side to having an updated LinkedIn profile. And plenty of up sides.

Below are a few specific reasons why you should spiff up your profile, followed by quick tips on how to make it work best. I’m including links to step-by-step instructions.

Even if you’re sure social media is not for you, at least get a listing in LinkedIn and I’ll let you off the hook on the rest.

My LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn says I’m an all-star. That’s fun to see.

Who am I to advise on this?

I’ve been using LinkedIn longer than most people have even heard of it, and I’ve tinkered around to see what works. I gave gotten business from LinkedIn with very little effort. And I’m in the top 5% of most viewed LinkedIn profiles. I understand social media and I enjoy sharing the shortcuts.

So here’s my checklist for you…

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Stress Relief for Introverts in Career Transition

Transition

As a career and business coach who specializes in helping introverts, you can imagine the trepidation I hear about networking, writing about oneself on LinkedIn, starting a new business, and feeling heard at work.

For clarity, introverts are NOT at a disadvantage when it comes to career transition or starting a business, but they might feel more stressed by it.

My primary work struggle related to introversion was in valuing and speaking up about my talents and accomplishments. With a lot of help, including communication classes and a career coach, I finally hit my stride with speaking confidently, authentically, and thoughtfully. It’s funny to look back because my communication now feels so easy and so “me.”

I’ve gathered a few resources that might help ease the stress of the career or business transition for other introverts. Continue reading

Can You Define Networking? It’s Not What You Think.

NetworkingNetworking is one of those maligned concepts that strikes fear in many hearts, especially introverts. In my workshop called “Networking Secrets from an Ex-Wallflower,” the first secret is to understand what networking actually is and isn’t.

In the workshop, almost as soon as I start defining what networking is NOT, people start to relax and say things like:

Oh, networking does not equal pain and suffering!! ~Mary

Once you know what it is, you will understand it’s kinda fun. If it’s not, you’re not doing it right. Continue reading

10 Essential Resume Repairs

Bad ResumeIt’s a new era so stop making résumés like you’re applying to IBM of 1950. Here’s your checklist to get it right.

My career coaching clients often ask me to review their résumés. As a former hiring manager, I know what employers pay attention to (and what ends up in the trash) especially when they’re inundated with résumés.

Here’s what I find myself saying all the time about the résumés I review. Please use the following as a checklist and we’ll all be happier. Continue reading