So, you’ve mastered networking. Now what?

We all know that Public Relations is all about networking.  But once you’ve connected with a PR professional, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain a relationship with them.  Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: informational interviews.  
What are informational interviews?
Informational interviews are short meetings in which students ask industry experts for career and professional advice.  The best way to request a meeting with a contact is to merely ask.  Send them a short email explaining your interest in the field and inquire if they would be willing to meet with you to discuss their experiences within the industry.
Most professionals will be flattered that you considered them a mentor of sorts.  At the same time it’s important to be mindful that, by agreeing to the informational interview, they are doing you a favor.  Though it can be as simple as a 30 minute meeting over coffee, you are not exempt from traditional interview etiquette.
How to prepare:
Like any other interview, it’s important to do your homework.  Come with well-prepared questions that identify the information you are most interested in seeking.  Ask what you genuinely want to know about the industry or their specific position; chances are if you’re just repeating memorized questions, they will be able to tell.  Remember, this is not a chance for you to ask for job opportunities but to gain insight into the industry from a PR professional.
Be sure to ask open-ended questions like “What are the most challenging/rewarding aspects of your career?”, “What has been your career path from college to the present?”, and “Where do you see the future of the industry going?” Make a note to ask if you have missed any important points that they would care to mention.
Despite a casual setting, you will still be expected to conduct yourself as a professional.  This includes dressing like one. 
The Follow-up
Finally, who doesn’t love a thank you note?  Hand-writing a personalized thank you note within 24 hours of your meeting will not only let the professional know how much you valued the interview, but also leave a positive and memorable mark. 

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jaime Martorana.
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