After an Informational Interview
Send a thank you email within 24 hours.
Most likely, they left the conversation feeling pretty good about themselves that they shared a lot of wisdom with you. They are thinking that you must feel pretty enthusiastic. You can capitalize on that momentum and good feelings by sending a thank you email immediately to them (or at least within 24 hours). You do not need to wait a few hours before you send the email. Right away is definitely acceptable.
Pro tip: Schedule an extra 15 minutes on your calendar after the informational interview to hold to write the thank you email.
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me today about your career in zoology. I really appreciated all of the details that you provided on your journey from college to grad school to your current job. I will definitely look for research opportunities next semester to gain hands-on experience and look into the animal science programs at my school.
Would it be ok if I followed up with you in the future when I have additional questions?
I hope that you have a really nice holiday break with your family.
If they offered to do something for you after the conversation, include that in the email.
It was a pleasure talking to you today about your journey to becoming a teacher at Hogwarts. Thank you very much explaining the differences between the Norwegian ridgeback and the Hungarian horntail dragons. Next week I plan to check out the book you recommended, Dragons Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, out of the library.
Thank you for offering to connect me to your friend in Romania who also studies dragons. Let me know if I should provide any information to you to make that introduction easier.
Thank you again,
Q: What do I do if it’s past 24 hours and I haven’t sent the thank you email?
A: Still send the email! Alumni often get hung up because they want to write the perfect thank you email. It is better to send an (error free) short thank you email quickly, than to never send the “perfect email.”
If it’s been an embarrassingly long time since the conversation, here is an example of how to write that thank you email:
First, let me apologize for the delay in sending this email. I really enjoyed our conversation last month and sincerely thank you for taking the time to talk to me about potions. I found it very interesting and really appreciated your passion for the topic.
I’ve registered for a potions class next term at college and am really looking forward to it thanks to our conversation.
Thank you again for meeting with me and for giving me so much actionable advice.
Add them on LinkedIn.
Adding the person you spoke with on LinkedIn after your conversation is totally appropriate. You can use their email address and simply say succinctly in the message
Thank you for talking with me today! I hope we can stay in touch.
Follow their advice.
Once you’ve followed any of their advice, email them to let them know.
Example of email updating them on following advice:
Thank you very much for recommending that I read Cracking the Coding Interview. The book was very helpful to me in preparing for interviews. In fact, I just had an interview with Google yesterday, so the timing was perfect.
Follow up if they offered to help and haven’t.
Oftentimes, in a conversation, your contact will offer to help you after the conversation (e.g. making an introduction, sharing a job posting, or sending you an article).
It can be awkward when a few days passes and they don’t do what they said they would do.
Q: What should I do if they haven’t done what they offered?
A: You should follow up. Tactfully. Also, make sure that you have already sent your thank you note before you ask them to do something for you.
Q: How long should I wait before I follow up with them?
A: Assess how time sensitive the action is.
If they offered to help you with something for your interview that is in 48 hours, follow up the next morning.
If they offered to help you with something that isn’t tied to a deadline, then wait 3-7 days before you follow up.
Q: What should I say so that I don’t bother them?
A: Remind them. You can either:
Send a new email with a new subject line that refers to the action item.
Subject: Reminder About Introduction to Fleur Delacour
Subject: Following up About Job Posting
Reply to the existing email thread that you used to set up the conversation.
Dear Professor McGonagall,
Thank you again for talking with me last week. I’ve been reflecting a lot on your question of what kind of impact do I want to make with my research.
I wanted to follow up and say that I would still be very excited to talk to Fleur Delacour about her experiences. Please let me know if I can provide any information to you to make the introduction easier. I’m also happy to reach out directly to her if you are willing to share her email address.
Thank you again for your offer to help me on my journey.
Q: What do I do if they still don’t reply?
A: You can reply to them one more time, and then after that, probably stop.
Dear Professor McGonagall,
I understand that you are incredibly busy (especially during finals season), but I figured I’d reach out one more time to see if you would introduce me to Fleur Delacour.
I hope you are doing well.
Thank you in advance,
Continue to build the relationship.
For people you talk to and have a good conversation, click with, or are really interested in their organization/role, think about how to build the relationship over time. The building relationships section has instructions on how to do this.