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Finding your next job - The Next Step Project
Making and leveraging connections

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3. The conversation

You got the connection and your call’s been set-up. How do you make sure you’re ready and can make the most of it?

Before the Call

Here’s a list of things to do before you jump on that introduction call to make the most of it.
Make sure your calendar invite is up-to-date: if you’re doing a Zoom or video call, make sure the link and dial-in information is included. The details matter!
If you’re doing a phone call, clarify who will be initiating the call. If you’re initiating, make sure you get the right phone number and let them know what number you’ll be dialing from so they know to pick up.
The day before your call, consider sending a quick email to confirm that they’ll still be available to sync, as schedules often shift quickly.
Do your research
Use LinkedIn to understand their career arc (e.g., companies, roles, projects, types of work).
Define your goals
Think beyond just getting a referral - E.g., to learn more about a field or how to get a job.
Make your list of questions
Limit this to and prioritize them, so you make the best use of your time.
Prepare your narrative
Make sure you’re ready to speak about your own work experiences, what you’re looking for, and what you’re interested in speaking with them about.
Decide how you’ll take notes
Pen and paper or laptop - whatever works best for you. This’ll help you retain all the key learnings afterwards - and will feed into the follow-up thank you note you send after your call.
Stumped on questions to ask?
Here’s a few that we’ve found helpful -
How did they make decisions about what roles to take at different points throughout their career?
What were some of their key learnings?
What skills have they found most useful?
What advice do they have for you, given where you’re at?
Are there others they know who might have good recommendations for you as well? (Tap into their networks)

During the call

Focus, focus, focus: don’t try to multitask. This probably seems obvious, but especially when it comes to non-face to face interactions, it can be tempting to try and do other things.
Take notes: this is the only other thing you should be doing besides talking! Even with a 20 minute call, there may be key information you forget by the end.
Go with the flow: ask your questions, but don’t feel the need to stick to them. You may end up having a far more engaging or enlightening conversation than you’d anticipated!
Relax and focus on learning: yes, it’s important to make a good impression, but don’t stress yourself out about this. Approach this as an opportunity to learn about someone else and establish a genuine connection.

More Resources

Here’s general advice for handling informational interviews masterfully!

Here’s inspiration for questions to ask during your informational interviews
[Columbia University Center for Career Education]

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