Much attention is directed at preparing for a job interview – and rightfully so. This is also true of informational interviews where there is no actual job, but you’re meeting with someone to learn about the market, the competition, their personal contacts, etc. Your chances of having a successful interview can be directly related to the quantity and quality of your preparation.
To be sure, the other end of the process – the follow through – can be just as important.
First of all, the best time to follow up with an interviewer is right away. Even if it’s just a short email, the old adage – the sooner, the better – certainly applies here. Some candidates go so far as to draft their thank you note prior to the actual interview. They then modify it as appropriate to conform to the interview.
A critical component of the follow up surfaces when your contact suggests a referral to a colleague or co-worker. Assuming that you receive the referral’s email, there is an understanding that you are going to reach out to that individual at some time in the near future.
In such cases, it is courteous and professional to keep your referral source in the loop. When you do reach out to the referral, be certain to copy your source on the same email to let the source know that are following up as you said you would.
It also would be a good idea to send a note to your source after you have had your meeting, or even just established contact, with the referral just to let them know that things are moving forward. Again, keeping the source in the loop is just the right thing to do on many different levels.
It’s a good idea as well to let your source know if you are unable to contact the referral. Not establishing contact may not be anyone’s fault (the referral could be on vacation, out due to illness, traveling, etc.) Your source may not know any of this. Dropping the source a note with an explanation and, more important, an update on the status of your efforts with the referral is another act of professional courtesy.
Keeping everyone in the loop and up to date demonstrates your thoroughness, sense of responsibility, and professionalism more than most anything. After all, actions do speak louder than words.