|Visit YEN's website.|
“Networking: Making Contact” – Part 4 of 5
Now that your network has expanded through the steps you learned last week, let’s put that knowledge to work through making contact with your network by asking for an “informational interview.”
The Informational Interview
An informational interview is a meeting, initiated by you, with an individual who has experience or knowledge in your area of interest. It should be undertaken with utmost care and professionalism.
You can make the initial contact by phone, e-mail or a formal letter of interest in which you ask for 20 to 30 minutes or so of someone's time. The most expedient method is by phone or e-mail, but you will have to consider which is appropriate for each situation.
Be clear and concise. Tell the person who you are, what your purpose is, why and how you came upon him or her. A typical contact might sound like this: "Hello, this is Chris Smith. I received your name from the chair of the Young Executives Network. I am interested in the automotive aftermarket, and I note you have extensive experience in the field. Would you have 20 or 30 minutes to meet with me sometime so that I might learn more about how you got started, trends in the field and specific information on your company?"
You may wonder if people will take time away from their busy schedules to talk with you. They will for several reasons: you have been referred to them by someone they know; meeting with you and others helps keep them informed, up-to-date and well-connected; experts love to share their expertise; and people like to help others because they find it rewarding.
Before the Interview
For the formal informational interview you should do your homework ahead of time. Information on the industry, the organization, even the person you are interviewing should be obtained before you ask for an interview. Prepare your questions in advance, but do not make them so "canned" that you fail to connect genuinely with the person. Dress professionally and bring copies of your resume, but distribute them only upon request.
During the Interview
Arrive 10–15 minutes before your appointment.
During the interview, you are in charge. Restate your purpose and why you are talking to this particular person. Adhere to the original time request of 20–30 minutes. Ask open-ended yet pertinent questions (see below for suggestions), and ask for referrals to other appropriate individuals in the field or in related organizations. Take notes and get a business card from the person.
This is not the time to hand over your resume and ask for a job or internship, although you may have your resume at hand if the person asks to see it. You will be following up with a thank you note or letter, and at that time you can send a resume, if appropriate. It is important to understand the difference between an informational interview (during which you are seeking information, ideas and/or referrals) and a job interview.
What to Say and Ask
First things first: "Thank you for taking time out of your day to meet with me."
Second, restate your purpose: "As I indicated on the phone (in my letter), I am in the process of gathering information and advice about the field of (targeted field). (Name) suggested that I should contact you."
It is also important to state plainly and simply, "I am not here to ask you for a job; I am here to ask you for information."
Your questions will yield more information if they are open-ended enough to engage the person in conversation. Following are possible questions you might consider:
“Could you tell me about your background and how you came to hold your current position?”
The conversation should lend itself to inquiries about educational background as well as the steps in this person's career path. You will be learning how at least one person got to where you think you may want to go.
“What general skills are required in this line of work?”
This should yield particular contexts in which general transferable skills (which can be products of your education) are employed. It also invites the follow-up question identified next:
“What specific or technical skills have you acquired in your work?”
Besides yielding what you need to have in the skills department, this question might be followed by an inquiry into the types of training the employer provides.
“What do you like most about your work (or the field)?”
This question might get at how the person articulates the intrinsic rewards of the work. These are the intangibles, the things that make the person tick and bring joy in his or her work.
“Are there any responsibilities you would rather give away?”
This is a diplomatic attempt at uncovering aspects of the work that the person does not appreciate.
“What are some of the challenges of your job?...that the company faces?...that impact the field?”
These questions are designed to give you clear information regarding the stresses, demands and probably the opportunities in this line of work. Much work is created to address problems, and these questions will help you begin to articulate how you might be part of the solution to those problems.
“What is the outlook for entry-level professionals in the field?”
Part of this line of inquiry includes, "What is a typical entry-level position in the field (or in this organization)?" and should unveil how someone can get a chance to start.
“What are the short- and long-term goals of your organization or department?”
Here, you are attempting to get a clearer and current picture of the organization. You should have done enough research ahead of time to know some basics about the products or services and even the general philosophy of the organization. This will take your knowledge a step farther.
“Are there others in this field with whom you would suggest I talk?”
Follow this with, "May I say you referred me?" Make sure you get the correct spelling of the name.
“I remain very interested in this line of work and will certainly pursue further leads for information and perhaps employment. Do you have any final advice to give me regarding a career in this field? What do you recommend for my next step?”
This statement begins the closure of the interview. It should be heartfelt; otherwise, do not use it. The question allows the person to comment freely, accept or reject the mantle of mentor and tie up any loose ends.
Finally, ask for permission to stay in touch to let him or her know how your search for information is going, and to learn of potential developments (e.g., May I keep in contact with you to report my progress?). If you are granted this permission, follow through!
After the Interview
Send a thank you note or letter immediately, and keep the person informed of your progress. While a hand-written note is always considered preferable, these days a timely follow-up e-mail is also appreciated. This is both courteous and prudent. By keeping in touch you are cultivating new leads while nurturing the relationship for future follow-up contacts. Sending someone an article you think might interest them is a genuine technique that demonstrates reciprocity; you’re giving back after they’ve given their time and advice.
Evaluate your style of interviewing as well as the information you received. Summarize the information in writing and date it. Your journal should include specific points that were made in the interview and when or if you will follow up. If you make several contacts during a week, your notes and summaries will be extremely important as you review what you have learned.
Next week, we’ll provide you with some tips and tricks on follow-up.
you know that the SEMA Young Executives Network has more than 500
members networking in the industry and is the largest SEMA committee?
If you are employed by a SEMA-member company and are under the age of
39, then you can join the SEMA Young Executives Network for FREE. If
you are interested in becoming part of the team, please visit our
website at www.sema.org/yen.
YEN Member of the Month Spotlight
Did you know that YEN has a Member of the Month Spotlight on the SEMA
website and that anyone can be nominated? To view previous selections
or to make a nomination, visit www.sema.org/yen.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? YEN is!
Be sure to follow YEN on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/yen and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
YEN Column in SEMA Member News
Read YEN's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit ARMO's website.|
ARMO Welcomes New Select Committee Members
As a result of the recent elections, ARMO has four new members on the Select Committee. Todd Bidwell of Parts Unlimited and Camee Edelbrock of Schiefer Media each began their first term as a Select Committee member last Thursday, July 1. Matt Agosta of Steele Rubber Products, while “new” for this year, is actually beginning his second round on the Select Committee. Agosta is a former ARMO chair, and former SEMA Board of Directors member.
The complete ARMO Select Committee roster for 2010–2011 may be found on the ARMO website at www.sema.org/armo.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? ARMO Is!
Be sure to follow ARMO on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/armo and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
ARMO Column in SEMA Member News
Read ARMO's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit HRIA's website.|
Have You Registered a Patent or Trademark? Your Competition Has.
Protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of its members is a top SEMA priority. The process begins when companies register their patents, trademarks, and copyrights with government agencies in the United States (and other countries). Registration is a key to establishing legal rights.
To assist its members, SEMA has created a webpage called Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights, explaining the different types of IP, including protecting new products (utility patents) and product designs (design patent), identifying the source of the product (trademarks), and protecting product brochures or website designs (copyright). It also contains information on how to register IP along with links to seminars, webinars and SEMA News articles.
With respect to enforcing IP rights at the SEMA Show, the association has developed an effective policy for pursuing infringement allegations. SEMA’s IP enforcement policy is posted on the IPR web page and is also published as part of the Exhibitor Services Manual. Questions may be directed to Stuart Gosswein (email@example.com).
HRIA Builds Custom Pinewood Racers for Auction
first annual HRIA Builders Pinewood Race was held in Pasadena,
California, as part of the SEMA Show 'N Shine car show and Pinewood Drag
Races. This new event featured some of the nation’s top hot-rod and
custom car builders bending the rules of pinewood car racing to create
one-of-a-kind creations for the track. Aside from required dimensions
and weights, the only rule for the builders was to use at least one
piece of the wood block provided.
All of the participating
builders far exceeded the expectations for the race, creating
masterpieces that will eventually be auctioned for Childhelp and
Victory Junction Gang Camp.
Alan Johnson's Hot Rods and Pinkee’s Rod
Shop chose to create their hot rods from billet aluminum, while Rich
Evans Designs and Street Vizions went with a more traditional approach
of forming their cars from wood. Other builders looked for loopholes
in the rules, as Rob Ida Concepts and Cotati Speed Shop entered hot
rods with only three wheels.
The cars built by Clay Smith Cams
and Carl’s Custom Cars embodied the spirit of traditional hot rods,
while Boerne Stage Kustoms paid tribute to the land speed bullets of
the past. The paint skills of these builders was on display with great
entries from Hot Rods & Custom Stuff and Fesler Built.
Art Morrison engineered the most unique and advanced pinewood car in
the race, fabricating an actual chassis and suspension, along with ball-bearing wheels.
Although some of the cars look much better than they raced, all of
these pinewood cars are unique works of art. Derrick White with Street
Vizions captured the HRIA Cup by leaving all the other entrants in the
dust with his traditional hot-rod pinewood car. But, the true winners of
this event will be the kids of Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang Camp.
All of these cars will be on display at the SEMA Show in November, and
available for bidding on eBay beginning November 1. HRIA congratulates
Street Vizions and thanks all of these builders for their time and
dedication to this special event. Get ready for next year, as we are
sure the cars will be even more unique and wild as we add more great
builders to the race. Click here to see photos of the event.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? HRIA is!
Be sure to follow HRIA on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/hria and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
HRIA Column in SEMA Member News
Read HRIA's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit LTAA's website.|
LTAA Welcomes New Select Committee Members
As a result of recent elections, LTAA welcomes two brand-new Select Committee members. David Crocket of Rolling Big Power and Isaac Ronquillo of Big Country/Go Rhino Products began their first terms as select committee members last Thursday, July 1. The election results also included returning incumbents Tom Brooks of Truckin’ Thunder, Bill Cole of Yankee Customs Inc., Fred Snow of Hella Lighting and Melanie White of Hellwig Products.
The complete 2010–2011 LTAA Select Committee may be found on the LTAA homepage at www.sema.org/ltaa.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? LTAA Is!
Be sure to follow LTAA on all of your favorite social networking sites.
To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/ltaa and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
LTAA Column in SEMA Member News
Read LTAA's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit MPMC's website.|
MPMC Welcomes New Select Committee Members
MPMC welcomes six brand new members to the Select Committee as a result of recent elections. They are:
- William Baty, Centerforce Clutches
- Todd Gartshore, Baer Inc.
- Scott Hall, Moroso Performance Products
- John Sonnefeldt, Holley Performance
- Steve Williams, K&N Engineering
- Gary Wright, Painless Performance Products.
“This year saw quite a turnover in the Select Committee,” said newly
installed Chairman Kyle Fickler of Weld Racing. “We have an interesting
mix of returning incumbents and fresh faces which should make for a
dynamic group. Vic Wood (newly installed chair-elect) and I are looking
forward to working with everyone.”
The MPMC Select Committee, with member profiles, can be seen on the MPMC homepage at www.sema.org/mpmc.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? MPMC Is!
Be sure to follow MPMC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/mpmc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
Take a Friend to a Race Fan Page
The MPMC Motorsports Awareness campaign, highlighted by the Take a Friend to a Race program, now has its very own Fanpage on Facebook. If you’re not a fan yet, you should be!
MPMC Column in SEMA Member News
Read MPMC's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about MPMC, contact Jim Skelly.
|Visit MRC's website.|
MRC Long-Range Planning Meeting
MRC will host its annual Long-Range Planning meeting at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, on Tuesday, September 28, 2010, from 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. Dinner will be served. All reps are welcome and encouraged to participate in this open and interactive forum.
Participate in the meeting: Be part of the present—be part of the future—address issues faced daily by reps in all segments of the automotive industry.
For meeting coordinators to be able to accommodate food and beverage, attendees are asked to take a moment and download the RSVP form, call 909/978-6693 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2010.
MRC Rep Conference Coming to Vegas!!
The 9th annual MRC Rep Conference moves to Las Vegas at the 2010
SEMA Show. Bryan Shirley, president and CEO of the Manufacturers’
Agents National Association will host an open and interactive session
titled “Survival of the Fittest! Is that You?” The economy has redefined the new automotive aftermarket…now it’s time to redefine yourself!
The MRC Rep Conference will convene at the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday,
October 31, 2010, from 4:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m. The early-bird price for
SEMA members is $49 ($69 for non-members). Online event registration is now available! For additional information, contact SEMA Council Liaison Staci Bostock at 909/978-6693 or email@example.com.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? MRC is!
Be sure to follow MRC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/mrc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
MRC Column in SEMA Member News
Read MRC's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit PRO's website.|
Have you ever wondered how to get more involved in the SEMA Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) Council?
What exactly do the council leaders do throughout their term? Very
simply, the Select Committee is elected by members of the council to
serve a two-year term. They participate in monthly conference calls and
meetings that are held at various trade events throughout the year.
Each Select Committee member volunteers for at least 20 hours
throughout the year, and some volunteer even more. Some share their
experience and vision, others provide creative solutions to challenges
our member companies are facing and others get their hands dirty and
get it done. Each Select Committee member is supported by their company
in their PRO efforts, and for that we say, “thank you,” to those
The leaders of the PRO gathered earlier this year in Lima, Ohio, for
its annual Long-Range Planning meeting. This meeting focused on
bringing value to the PRO-member companies. The past 18 months have
been extremely challenging for all of our companies, and the council is
dedicated to utilizing SEMA’s resources to further benefit each PRO
Guiding the group’s effort was the council’s mission statement to “address
the challenges facing the restyling segment of the automotive
aftermarket and to develop effective strategies for dealing with
industry-specific issues.” A handful of exciting objectives are
being developed for the council over this year and next. If you are
passionate and have an interest in being involved, there are plenty of
opportunities to volunteer for a task force with a limited investment
of time that provides a great way to network and share your ideas.
Please reach out to the task force chair if you want to participate or
Education Task Force
Brian Champa (Check Corporation) and Bill North (Webasto Product North America) co-chair this task force and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The education task force is charged with developing successful programs
for members to enhance their businesses. The Technical Skills &
Training Conference (TSTC) recently launched, and the group is tasked
with expanding the number of events each year to ensure that training
and education become primary drivers for our industry.
NovemberFest Task Force
Mike Stanifer (Innovative Creations Inc.) chairs this group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The SEMA Show
in Las Vegas provides the backdrop for critical networking functions.
This group focuses on making PRO’s awards reception the place to be and
offering a fun forum to bring passionate members with common interests
Membership Task Force
Joey Johnston (Tops & Trends) chairs this group and can be reached at email@example.com.
The success of any council or initiative is dependent upon its members.
This task force focuses on growth, promotion and retention. It is
important that we mentor new members on council activities, events,
meetings and benefits.
ProPledge Task Force
David Stringer (Insignia Group) chairs this group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of this group is to promote industry standards and to
improve the perception of aftermarket installations throughout the
restyling industry. ProPledge offers dealers a warranty program and is
committed to delivering quality products and services.
There are so many other things the council leadership does throughout
the year. You are the expert at what your business needs, and this
council wants to deliver. Feel free to get in touch with us or come to
one of our PRO events. Our hope is that if you haven’t been a part of
PRO yet, you will be in 2010 and beyond.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? PRO Is!
Be sure to follow PRO on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/pro and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
PRO Column in SEMA Member News
Read PRO's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit SBN's website.|
Discover the SEMA Mentoring Program—Powered by the SBN
“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends…” - Joe Cocker
Everyone needs help or expert advice from time to time, and SEMA’s
Mentoring Program is an excellent resource to get answers to all your
questions. Whether you need to know more about SEMA, market information
for a start-up company or advice on how to approach your boss about a
new position, the SEMA Mentoring Program can help.
Mentor” is perfect for one-time questions. You can expect multiple SEMA
mentors to provide online guidance and answers to your industry-related
Short-term Assistance/Guidance is for help with a
specific project or task. A SEMA council/committee mentor with the
expertise you seek will be paired up with you to provide guidance with
Long-term Relationship is helpful for developing
your professional career. In this program segment you will be paired
with a SEMA council/committee mentor who will provide guidance and
assistance for ongoing career development or a long-term project.
So whether you just need an answer to a question or you want to
cultivate a mentoring friendship, the SEMA Mentoring Program—Powered by
the SBN is available to help. After all, we can all use a little help
from our friends.
Visit the SEMA Mentoring Program now.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? SBN is!
Be sure to follow SBN on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/sbn and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
SBN Column in SEMA Member News
Read SBN's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit SPC's website.|
Find the Business Possibilities Through the SPC
Participate in the automotive aftermarket at a whole new level by joining the SPC.
The purpose of SEMA councils is to help our member companies succeed
and prosper. In the SPC, our mission is to provide market information,
education and support to our members concerning new and emerging
trends. Whether it’s the latest business technology, forecasting sales,
future marketing solutions or up and coming vehicle platforms, we give
you and your company the chance to see what’s on the horizon.
Then we’ll help you understand and acquire the skills, tools and
technologies to lead the way. The SPC has the most diverse membership
of any SEMA council, and that will allow you to network with other
professionals from every facet of our industry and gain insights into
areas you may not have previously considered. Find out about the parts,
people, technologies, strategies, trends and, most important,
This is your chance to give something back to the industry, your
profession and to grow personally along the way. Join the SPC today and
become an active member of the specialty equipment and automotive
market — Tracie Nuñez, Advanced Clutch Technology, SPC Chairman
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? SPC is!
Be sure to follow SPC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/spc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
SPC Column in SEMA Member News
Read SPC's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.
|Visit WTC's website|
Have you ever wondered how to get more involved in the SEMA Wheel and Tire (WTC) Council?
What exactly do the council leaders do throughout their term? Very simply, the Select Committee is elected by members of the council to serve a two-year term. They participate in monthly conference calls and meetings that are held at various trade events throughout the year. Each Select Committee member volunteers for at least 20 hours throughout the year, and some volunteer even more. Some share their experience and vision, others provide creative solutions to challenges our member companies are facing and others get their hands dirty and get it done. Each Select Committee member is supported by their company in their WTC efforts, and for that we say “thank you” to those companies!
The leaders of the WTC gathered earlier this year at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, for its annual Long-Range Planning meeting. This meeting focused on bringing value to the WTC-member companies. The past 18 months have been extremely challenging for all of our companies and the council is dedicated to utilizing SEMA’s resources to further benefit each WTC member.
Guiding the group’s effort was the council’s mission statement to “identify common problems and opportunities relating to the wheel and tire industries that the council, as an interested body of companies, can address for the common good.” A handful of exciting objectives are being developed for the council over this year and next. If you are passionate and have an interest in being involved, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer for a task force with a limited investment of time that provides a great way to network and share your ideas. Please reach out to the task force chair if you want to participate or have comments.
Science and Technology Task Force
Tim Dietz (Standards Testing Laboratories Inc.) and can be reached at email@example.com. This group focuses on aftermarket and OEM advances that affect our industry. From creating wheel standards to improved processes for tire-pressure monitoring systems and electronic stability control, the Science and Technology Task Force plays a pivotal role in the industry’s advancement.
Education Task Force
Kelly Austin (Ultra Wheel Company) chairs this group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The education task force is charged with developing successful programs for members to enhance their businesses. The WTC Task Force is responsible for partnering with the SEMA Educational Institute to create and promote online learning resources.
Communication and Marketing Task Force
Doug Frymer (Law Offices of Douglas A. Frymer) chairs this group and can be reached at email@example.com. This group focuses on membership outreach, growth and retention. It is imperative that councils effectively communicate services provided by WTC and SEMA to our members. Communication and services ensure that there is proper dialogue between leadership and membership.
SEMA Show Task Force
David Insull (American Tire Distributors) chairs this group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The SEMA Show in Las Vegas provides the backdrop for critical networking functions. This group focuses on making WTC’s awards reception an ideal place to get together, honor one another and network with all those who share a common passion.
There are so many other things the council leadership does throughout the year. You are the expert at what your business needs and this council wants to deliver. Feel free to get in touch with us or come to one of our WTC events. Our hope is that, if you haven’t been a part of WTC yet, you will be in 2010 and beyond.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? WTC is!
Be sure to follow WTC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/wtc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
WTC Column in SEMA Member News
Read WTC's column featured in the July/August issue of SEMA Member News.