Like many businesses responding to change, my partner and I are thinking about diversifying our studio’s offerings. Before we jump whole hog into anything, though, we’re doing a bunch of informational interviews.
Done well, informational interviews can be an enormous source of invaluable, real world information. The trick lies in finding the right people and asking the right questions.
To find the right people, we’re using our network. We’re asking everyone we know who they know that might be able to help us. We’re then trying to find out as much as we can about the people we’re calling before we pick up the phone. A little background research goes a long way towards figuring out what questions to ask.
Some of our leads will be great people to get general technical and technological information from. Others will be better to run ideas for prospects, markets and opportunities by. The rest we’ll look to for information about how we should expect this decision to impact our lives. How will this decision affect the number of hours we work? How much we travel? How we spend our time? The roles we play in our business? What will each of us need to learn? What new team-members will we need? What is working with clients in this environment really like? What do we need to watch out for? What do we need to do differently?
One thing we’ve learned from the interviews we’ve done so far is that if we don’t get off the phone saying “WOW! we just learned something amazing that we couldn’t have gotten any other way,” then we’re not asking the right questions. Another is to ask each person we talk to who else they know who might be willing to talk to us.
Gearing ourselves up to make these calls isn’t easy but the pay-off has been so worthwhile. I honestly can’t think of another way that we could have learned so much so fast.