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Informational Interviews for Introverts: A Cheat Sheet

Dear Val:
“I hear informational interviews are important so I can explore career and business ideas, but how does that work? Huh? What? Who do I ask? What do I say? They’ll think I’m weird…”
~from almost every introvert I talk to (at first)

Yes, asking people questions about their path is such a helpful step in finding your own path. And yet, it seems awkward, at first, for many introverts.

Informational interviews are good for when you’re exploring career ideas, business ideas, new niche ideas for your business, retirement ideas, and more. There’s so much gold in there.

I hate seeing so many people get stuck on this step. Let’s make this simple, right here and now.

There are particular concerns that I notice introverts raise about informational interviews. Do you recognize these?

  1. Won’t I be bothering the person if I ask them to speak with me?
  2. How can I find people to interview?
  3. I can’t just cold call some stranger I found online!
  4. I don’t know what to ask. I’ll be tongue-tied.
  5. I don’t know enough about the field to ask good questions. I’ll sound stupid.
  6. I don’t know what I’m planning to do yet, so I’ll seem unfocused.
  7. Is it a call, a lunch invitation, what? What’s the etiquette?

First I’ll give my short answer to each of those classic concerns, then I’ll elaborate and give you some basic steps including what to ask.

Elephants showing us an informational interview

It could be as sweet and simple as this.

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Self-employment Myths and Reality. It’s OK To Be Wobbly.

When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:

  1. “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
  2. “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”

Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.

Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.

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A Confident Introvert Facing the Fire: What It Takes

RBG film poster - introvert hero

Click for movie info and to watch online.

I just saw the movie, RBG. It’s a must-see! You’ll get to see an example of a powerful, confident, and courageous introverted woman, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I’m so inspired! It helped to restore my hope. I need that during these times. Don’t you?

RBG, as she is affectionately called by her many fans, is a good example of someone living true to herself and her values, and willing to face the heat of those who don’t want to listen to her opinions. We need this kind of role model!!

It’s not easy to be yourself in a culture that is so judgmental, and sometimes cruel. It can be easier to keep our mouths shut. But then, a deeper part of us wants more. Right?  Continue reading

Introverts Can Really Get Talking, If…

When starting my self-employment journey 9 years ago, it occurred to me that specializing in coaching introverts would make my heart happy and would fill a big need. I floated the idea to a couple of business friends, and they both said something like this: “That’s a bad idea. No one will admit to being introverted and they will never contact you or attend your events.”

Hmmmm.

Mind you, this was years before the explosion of introvert pride sparked in 2012 (when the book Quiet came out), so they were right about the negative attitude toward introverts and people’s hesitance to admit to being introverted, but my heart told me the need was there. I wasn’t going to let their opinion stop me.

So I decided to host a free discussion for introverts to talk about their work concerns so I could learn more before jumping in. I posted the invitation on a large email list and I got two kinds of responses:

  1. From many introverts: “When and where?! I’ll be there!”
  2. From a few extroverts: “A discussion for introverts? No one will talk.”

How wrong those extroverts were. So-called “quiet” people have a lot to say.

I’ll explain what gets introverts talking, and what happened in those introvert discussions. It was wonderful.

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What If You Don’t Know What You Want?

I’m realizing how common it is for people to think there’s something wrong with them if they don’t know what they want, in their work, their business, or their life.

I often hear things like this:

  • “I don’t have a clear goal or vision for my future, so I might be a hopeless case.”
  • “Other people just know what they want, but I’m not one of those people.”
  • “I’m trying to be self-employed but really I need to figure out what I actually like.”

I feel sad when someone thinks she is “a hopeless case.” In reality, lack of clarity on what you want is super common. It’s probably the norm!

But then, what to do?

[image - looking out wondering] Continue reading