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Networking & Informational Interviewing


What is networking?

Networking is the process of meeting people, having conversations, exchanging information, and nurturing relationships. A good network of professional contacts can help you stand out in an applicant pool, be considered for opportunities to grow, and potentially lead to promotion.

You’d be surprised by how many people you know. Think of SBU faculty and staff you know. Consider your friends and students you work with through clubs, fraternities/sororities, and other activities. Family and extended family members can also be part of your network.

Interested in learning more?

Attend a Networking for Career Success workshop. Register in Handshake.




Nuture your network with  career conversations/informational interviews

This is a career research technique that enables you to expand your knowledge of an occupation beyond what you have already learned through investigation. In this type of interview, you are the person asking the questions – you are interviewing a person for information about his/her career. Through the informational interview, you may learn about the work environment, the rewards and frustrations of the job, as well as the personal qualities needed for success in the field.

An informational interview is not a job interview. That means it is not appropriate to use the session to ask about job openings with the organization. 

Now that you know what an informational interview is, let’s talk about how to secure one!
The five steps to conducting an informational interview include:
Step 1
: Identify professionals to contact

Step 2: Prepare for the informational interview
Step 3: Request the informational interview
Step 4: Conduct the informational interview
Step 5: Follow up

Step 1: Identify professionals to contact

The best place to start is with your current network of contacts. Ask your contacts if they know anyone working in your field of interest who may be willing to speak with you and give you some advice.

Next, make a list of people you don’t know but you think might be willing to help. Approaching strangers is uncomfortable even for the most seasoned networkers, but you would be surprised at how willingly people help others who are interested in their careers. 



Step 2: Prepare for the informational interview

Before you speak with someone, you  must  have investigated the profession and know something about it – you must show a professional that you are serious and well prepared. From your research, get a sense of the type of work performed by your contact, current issues in the field, and industry-specific key words and acronyms. Remember, these are people who are setting aside time in their busy schedules to provide you with information. Do not waste their time by asking questions easily answered by doing a little homework.

Research... research... research...



Questions... questions... questions...

From your research, develop a list of questions about the industry, the field, or the individual you will be interviewing. It is inappropriate to ask about specific job openings. Develop your questions with the purpose of gathering information about your intended industry or field.

Plan enough questions for a 20-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute interview. Meaning – put your priority questions first and be prepared for a contact to give you just 20 minutes. Occasionally, things go so well that the interviewee will extend the conversation, so you should have extra questions ready just in case. 


Initiate the Conversation

Before you contact a micro-mentor, take some time to prepare. Consider the following:

To Do List Strategies for Conversation
Take time getting to know someone. Where possible, read about him/her in advance.   Before   meeting with your micro-mentor, do your research by viewing his/her company profile and LinkedIn profile. Take some time to learn about the person’s background. What, if anything, do you have in common?
What most piques your interest about this person?
Consider your interests. What do you hope to get out of this conversation? What do you want to learn?
Determine your goals. What would success look like for you? Can you articulate your goals and what you need to achieve them?
Share your assumptions, needs, expectations, and limitations candidly. Ask for feedback. Be open to honesty and critique.
Discuss options and opportunities for learning. Share your progress (past and current). Consider what additional assistance, guidance, or support might be most useful. Be specific.


Step 3: Request the informational interview

An informational interview is a brief meeting, with someone currently working in your field of interest, that offers you an insider’s perspective. The purpose of an informational interview is not to get a job. It’s to better understand a particular position or industry and make potential connections in the field.

If you request an informational interview with a micro-mentor, he/she will expect something more structured and focused than an informal chat. Treat the informational interview as a business meeting. Prior to the interview, research the company or career and develop a short list of questions that you would like to have answered. For a sample list of questions, visit     About Careers.

We recommend sending your request via email (see samples below); however, the nature and tone of your e-request will be different depending on whether the person to whom you are writing is a “warm contact” or a “cold contact.”




Cold contacts are people with whom you have absolutely no relationship, nor contacts. Be professional in your e-request, and use the subject line of your email to explain briefly who you are and what you want.

Warm contacts are people you know and people who know you through a close connection, such as the parent of your best friend. Warm contacts will be more likely to give you time if they have it. When writing a request to a warm contact, refer to your relationship in the subject line and use professional language in your email.

Hot contacts are people closest to you; those who know you well and will absolutely make time to help you. When writing to a hot contact, you may use casual language; however, the purpose of your e- request is still professional, so don’t assume you can simply put in your subject line something too casual, such as “Hey,” or “Yo, I need your help.”


Step 4: Conduct the informational interview

Exactly on time, call your contact  (or show up if you’ve arranged an in-person interview).




Step 5: Follow Up and Say Thank You

Always send a thank-you email after the interview, even though you said thank you in person. The thank-you note is the extra step you can make to solidify your professionalism in the eyes of the person you interviewed.

Keep in touch with the professionals you meet. Based on your interviews, if you decide to pursue a career in their field, your informational interviewees have just become your first network of contacts! These professionals may be willing to help you down the road, so it is important for you to maintain contact with them to let them know how things are going and where you are in the career exploration process.



Phone Call Etiquette for Job Seekers

While conducting your job search, you may need to call recruiters directly to get more information about the application process, recruiters may contact you, or you may have a phone interview. Friendly and professional phone etiquette will leave employers with a great impression of you, and it will make you feel more confident in interacting over the phone.

1) Practice what you want to say before you call. 
Make sure your words are clear and that you’re speaking slowly and confidently.

2) Call in a quiet location, preferably using a landline.
Try to avoid distractions or bad reception.

3) Be prepared to leave a voice message in case no one answers. 
Having it written down is a great idea. When leaving a message, include your name at the beginning, the reason for your call, and your phone number.

4) Have your resume and cover letter on hand when you call. 
Be prepared! Keep a pen and paperwith you to take notes on names, numbers, and instructions. 

5) Ask the recruiter if they have time to speak to you. 
They may want you to call back at another time or to come in for an appointment. Be considerate of their time.

6) Let the recruiter choose when to call you. 
End your conversation with “Please give me a call at your earliest convenience.” Don’t presume and ask them to call on your schedule.

7) Don’t take any other calls while you’re speaking to a recruiter. 
Never place them on hold. You want to show that you’re serious about the position and that you are prioritizing this phone call.

8) Return calls within 24 hours. 
If a recruiter calls you, return the call promptly.

9) Send a thank-you note. 
Whether your call was a request for information or a phone interview, always send a brief thank-you note through email or postal mail.


Email Etiquette for Job Seekers

  Email has become an important tool for employers and students alike, and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to send emails throughout your job search. When applying to jobs and communicating with potential employers through email, it is necessary to maintain a sense of professionalism.



Making a Linkedin Profile


Why Do You Need LinkedIn?

1. Online Presence

Many employers now perform background checks by simply entering your name into a search engine. By making a LinkedIn profile, you can guarantee that the first search result is work appropriate and further advertises your skills.

2. Networking

LinkedIn is a way to  network with employers, mentors, professors, alumni, peers, or other people in your industry. 

3. Job Search

LinkedIn is also a   platform for job postings. LinkedIn also provides statistical information on each employer like common positions, company headquarters, past and present employees, and more! After doing research, you can apply to positions that you’re interested in with your LinkedIn profile and uploaded resume.



Getting Started

 You have a profile! What's next?


Find your peers, supervisors, and mentors on  LinkedIn and send them requests to connect!

You should always accompany your request with a personalized message—this is even more highly recommended if you’re trying to connect with someone who may not remember you clearly at first, or if you are trying to connect with a potential employer. Let the person know how you met and what organization/connections you have in common.



How to use LinkedIn

Now that you have a great profile, make sure to keep it updated and to be active in conversation! Add new contacts as you meet new people, and pay attention to the connections your contacts have. If someone you know is connected to an employer at your dream company, don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction. Give the URL to your profile to employers or mentors you talk to and put it on your resume near your contact information. Even if they don’t add you, it’s a great place to show them your professionalism and your experiences and qualifications. A neat-looking, professional profile can go a long way in the interview process. Aside from showcasing your experiences, it shows employers that you understand how to create an online presence, which is a skill highly valued by companies.


Business Cards

Making a lasting impression and standing out in a large population pool requires both a firm handshake and a business card. A business card not only helps you get noticed, but it also gives your network contact information and a professional perception of you. Additionally, it is important to brand yourself—meaning to show how valuable you are as an individual, but also what goods and services you can offer. Having a business card is a great way to show potential employers what you’re interested in and what you have to offer. However, it isn’t just about giving out your business card; it’s about the cards you receive in return. You’re expanding your business network and increasing your chances of succeeding in the professional realm.

Information you should include on your business card:

Name. Use your full name or shortened version (ex: Joseph- Joe). No gimmicks, no nicknames.

Current university with   major(s) and minor(s)/degrees you’re working towards

Graduation date.  This is important for employers to know your availability.

Candidate for internship doing... OR  Candidate for entry level position in...  It is important to let employers know what you’re looking for. This aspect is important for branding yourself as well.

City, State. Street address is not necessary.

Phone numbers (work, home, or cell). If you decide to have more than one, indicate which is which. Ideally, a cell phone number is fine. Make sure that your voicemail greeting is appropriate.

Email address. Keep the email address you use professional. Aim for an address that simply includes your name and/or initials with no numbers. Steer clear of FancyDisc0Person239103; johnjsmith looks much more professional. Do NOT use your Stony Brook email; for some employers it shows that you are unavailable for employment.

DO NOT INCLUDE THE STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY LOGO   – Based on business card guidelines, Stony Brook University students may not put the logo on their business cards. SBU can be represented in type only.

Professional Attire


Network with Alumni

We offer a variety of ways for you to learn from alumni and friends about careers: Formal mentoring programs, Alumni Association LinkedIn Group page, alumni career articles in Stony Brook Matters, and alumni virtual panels.

Register on  Handshake  under Career Events for upcoming networking workshops. After learning networking how-tos, we'll arrange introductions for you with alumni.

Network with Alumni on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s   Alumni page   provides high-level insights about alumni of your school, as well as access to the more detailed professional profiles they've shared.

alum page linkedin


Additional Ways to Learn From SBU Mentors

Virtual Alumni Panels 

 Visit   Handshake  for upcoming virtual events.