Do any of these sound familiar to you? You have responsibilities: a mortgage perhaps, maybe a family, bills to pay and futures to save for. And yet, exactly how to go about managing your money as you shift into a new industry can be confronting, confusing, and a great incentive to stick your head in the sand. The three approaches to financing a shift 1. Saving When most people think about making a career change, this is the approach they imagine. Streamlining When we think about saving money, this is usually the first place to start.
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And all it would take to find them would be to ask. They had been great friends for a decade and a half, but had never really discussed anything to do with work. Alison reached out to her immediate network to see if she knew anyone working in one of a list of potential career paths. In the space of three months, she had over 50 informational interviews — and it all started by reaching out to the people she already knew.
Who do you know that works or has worked in the past in an industry that interests you? Start with them. Evolutionary psychologist Richard Dunbar estimated that each one of us can maintain a social circle of around meaningful connections with people at a time. Next, consider that each one of those also each knows approximately people, making the total number of people you could speak to, simply by way of an introduction through a mutual friend, around 22, Would you be willing to put me in touch?
But there may also be times when the thread of connections and conversations runs out. People who share interests tend to spend time in the same kinds of places.
Take yourself to those same places. Start conversations. Have mini-informational interviews there and then, or use those conversations as springboards to build relationships for later. Most of the time, the people you need to know are already somewhere in your network. Where might people who share your interest hang out? The Big-Wonderfuls. You might be able to find these women and men fairly easily online; on LinkedIn, on their personal websites, or on Twitter, for example.
An employee, a client, someone working for a business that connects with their business… Reaching out to Big-Wonderfuls is something of an art form — one we teach in our Career Change Launch Pad — but that can also be developed through a little common sense and a little trial and error.
If you were to reach out for a Big-Wonderful, who might you start with? Make them feel special Of all the people you could reach out to, why are you approaching them for an interview? They have a connection to an industry or field of work that inspires you, which means what they do for a living inspires you. You have a shared interest or passion — you are committed to the same things in life. Is this really something you can do? What if it all goes wrong?
What do you need to learn? How much time are you asking for? An hour? Make it easy How can you make this as smooth and painless for them as possible? Offer to meet them round the corner from their place of work. Ask them to pick a time that suits them, and work around their schedule.
Pay for the coffee. Make this a pleasant, easy experience. Before the interview In the run-up to your meeting, take some time to get to know your interviewee. Look them up on LinkedIn. Check out their Twitter or their personal website. If they write on an industry-related topic, read an article or two. What projects have they been working on recently? What discussions do they get involved with online? Questions like How did you manage to do that without much previous experience?
Be clear on the three burning questions you most want to get answers to, and note them down. As Jackie discovered during her Launch Pad experience, sometimes people get the wrong end of the stick Be clear in your own head what you want out of the interview, and communicate that to your interviewee.
Start light Remember: while this might be nerve-wracking for you, it could also be a new experience for your interviewee! Be kind to them; ease into the conversation and make them feel comfortable with you.
A great way to do this, as one of our Launch Pad Alumni, David, points out, is to get them smiling early on. I found this gave loads of opportunity for them to talk about themselves and open up, and it set me up with me lots of follow-on questions about the bits I was most interested in. It also created an opportunity to ask for other people I could talk to! What will this person think of me? They must be busy — am I worth their time?
What if I look silly? Relax and enjoy the opportunity in front of you — and make sure you get what you came for. Drop your interviewee an email, preferably on the same day, and let them know the one biggest thing you learned from the conversation. Perhaps they told you a story about their own experience that you were particularly inspired by.
Whatever they contributed to your thinking about your shift, acknowledge it specifically in your appreciation. Follow up again It might seem excessive, but try to give your interviewees an update on how things are going a month or two after your conversation. And if you can tie their insights and contributions into your update, showing how they impacted your next steps, so much the better.
Not only does it feel good to be remembered, it also often jogs my memory and has me think of new ways I could help or support them.
Seeing their name in my inbox can be exactly the catalyst I need to do what I wanted to do all along — support them further in their exploration of their new careers. Stumble across an interesting article related to what they do online? Send them a link. Meet someone they might be interested in speaking to?
There are very few other things you can do that are likely to move you faster and with less risk toward a career you love. What can you do this week to get your first informational interview in the diary? Let me know in the comments below! Natasha Stanley is Head Coach for Careershifters.
She also speaks, writes and facilitates events on the art of human connection.
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