1. Research the organization to learn as much as you can before making contact.
- Organization's Website
- Major and Local Periodicals
- Brochures / Pamphlets
- University Career Center
2. Know the name and title of the person you are contracting, including the correct pronunciation.
3. Prepare an outline of topics/questions you would like to discuss and an estimate of how long the meeting will take. When initiating contact, give them an estimate of how long you expect the conversation to last, and ask them when a good time to talk would be. Be respectful of their time and schedule, most people are willing to give 20-30 minutes, especially if you're a student.
4. Make contact via letter/email or phone:
- Briefly introduce yourself
- Explain why you are writing
- State your interests and/or experience in this person's field/organization
- State why you would like to converse
- Ask how and when you would like to follow up
- Phone: "Hi, my name is _____________, and I'm a student at the University of _____________. I got your name from _____________. I'm really interested in your work on _____________, and I was hoping that you could help me gain insights into _____________. I'm sure that my questions could be answered in a 20-30-minute interview."
5. Be professional:
- Don't write to the organization as you would to your friends
- Don't forget capitalization and punctuation
- Don't use acronyms and abbreviations (i.e. UofO, lol)
- Don't send requests for paragraphs of information, ask questions that can be answered in a short amount of time
- Actively listen — you might discover or acquire information about unanticipated areas of interest
- Maintain eye contact
- Dress appropriately/professionally
6. After the interview, send a thank-you note within 1-3 days including an example of what you learned and your contact information.