Informational Interviews Are Great: Addendum

Yesterday I said that asking strangers to talk to you is a thing you should do. I stand by that! Except for these two things:

1. “Usually I would say, don’t ever ask people you don’t know to get coffee with you …”

2. “Nobody wants to meet you in person. Don’t even ask.”

What a jerk! I sound like a major, major jerk. JERK. And also: A hilarious hypocrite, because I ask people to coffee ALL THE TIME. Half of the coffee I’ve ever had has been with strangers I’ve coerced into meeting with me. And almost all of the beer.

But here’s why I don’t recommend asking out your career role model as a first step: New York, man. Living in this city has made me pretty mortified that I used to flit into town and be like, “ATTENTION NEW YORK! GET A LATTE WITH ME!” And sure, yes: People like talking about themselves and like giving advice and I’m sure whatever time they spent with me was fine—I’m not a total bore (or boor). But people are so busy, which is something that I didn’t understand until very recently. I’m really not that busy at all and yet, still: I am so busy. So this piece of advice comes out of mortification, really. BY ASKING ADULTS FOR COFFEE WAS I REALLY ASKING FOR THE MOON? I think it’s possible.

So: I think “FAN EMAIL, QUESTION?” and then “FAN EMAIL, PHONE CALL?” are respectful precursors to “FAN EMAIL, COFFEE?” But ultimately, grown ups know how to say, “no,” so do what you want.

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3 Comments / Post A Comment

mof (#342)

I didn’t think you sounded like a jerk. Just concise. And also, generally correct. I don’t think most people want to be suddenly asked out for mentor coffee.

Poppy (#1,438)

I once asked someone out for ‘tell me what you do and how cool it is’ coffee, and not only did he agree, he insisted on buying the coffee. A little embarrassing for me (but very generous of him!)

e (#734)

I’ve had a few people request informational interviews with me and I have to say I’m fondest of the phone. Email requires that I type, meeting in person requires that I meet in person, but the phone means I can be wandering around my house pretending to dust or whatever.

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