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Information and insights are fine, but why not ask directly for a job lead?

You need to be careful about this. There are two reasons. First, the meeting was arranged on the basis of "I'm looking for information." It's unethical to change the stated purpose of the meeting when you are in sorneone's office, just as "bait-and-switch" techniques are unethical in advertising.

Second, it would be neither wise nor necessary. It's not wise because the professional with whom you are meeting may be offended by the agenda change. It's also unnecessary. If you present yourself well (you are thoroughly prepared… you ask good questions), the professional will be as helpful as he or she can be. That may well include referrals or job leads.

Does that mean you couldn't ask for a job lead at all?

No…. it doesn't. But be careful not to stray from your stated purpose - information. You could ask, for example, "How would a person soon to graduate college enter this profession?" or "Does this profession tend to be in high demand?

If so, in what kind of industry?"

I wouldn't ask, • Are there any openings in your department?" If there are, and if you have presented yourself well, the professional will probably volunteer the information. In addition, you are going to ask fot leads for more informational meetings. Increase the chance of getting a "yes" to that request by avoiding the complications that "Do you have a job for me?" can bring with it.

David was almost convinced. "I'm ready to start meeting with my tepid contacts," he said. "Not quite yet," I replied.

Be prepared.

Like many people, David hadn't yet thought about his anticipated meeting with John Giraldi. Of course, he was going to put on a suit ("I don't want to look out of place"). However, David needed to realize that he should prepare for an informational meeting as thoroughly as he would for a job interview. There are two good reasons.

First, preparation is essential if your questions are going to yield useful answers. Second, you want to impress the professional with whom you are meeting with the idea that you might be a success in the field. That will make himlher more likely to extend an effort to help you. Coming prepared suggests that you would be prepared for your professional meetings. Being unprepared suggests the opposite. .

At my urging, David took the following steps to prepare for his informational meeting. First, he did some research on financial analysis as a career using the sources we discussed earlier. Second, David read materials about Clip-On and the office supply industry. Third, he visited his local office supply store to see how Clip-On products were being merchandised. Fourth, David tried to visit a place where Clip-On products were used to inquire about a consumer viewpoint. It's a good idea to get a feel for a firm's products in use or at least in a store.

Now that he was prepared, David could go to his meeting with John Giraldi and benefit from it. He arrived at Clip-On 15 minutes before his appointment time. "You can't be late if you are early," David reasoned. John came to pick up David from Clip-On's waiting area and they spent a few moments just chatting. John wanted it that way so they both would feel more at ease. David realized that the initiative for getting down to business lay with him, so he made the transition from the small talk to the matter at hand:

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