|Excuse me. May I ask you a few questions?|
For today's task, find an expert in your field and ask if that expert would like to be interviewed. If you can secure the interview, this will make for a great blog post. Or it may help you secure a freelance assignment with a publication in your field. Or both, and possibly more.
How to Ask for an Interview
Believe it or not, asking for an interview with an expert is easy. I do it all the time, and these are the steps I take.
- Find an expert on a topic. This is sometimes the hardest part: figuring out who I want to interview. But I never kill myself trying to think of the perfect person, and here's why: I can always ask for more interviews. Sometimes, it's just more productive to get the ball rolling than come up with excuses to not get started.
- Locate an e-mail for the expert. This can often be difficult, but a lot of experts have websites that share either e-mail addresses or have online contact forms. Many experts can also be reached via social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Or they can be contacted through company websites. And so on.
- Send an e-mail asking for an e-mail interview. Of course, you can do this via an online contact form too. If the expert says no, that's fine. Respond with a "Thank you for considering and maybe we can make it work sometime in the future." If the expert says yes, then it's time to send along the questions.
How to Handle an E-mail Interview
Once you've secured your expert, it's time to compose and send the questions. Here are some of my tips.
- Always start off by asking questions about the expert. This might seem obvious to some, but you'd be surprised how many people start off asking "big questions" right out of the gate. Always start off by giving the expert a chance to talk about what he or she is doing, has recently done, etc.
- Limit questions to 10 or fewer. The reason for this is that you don't want to overwhelm your expert. In fact, I usually ask around eight questions in my e-mail interviews. If I need to, I'll send along some follow-up questions, though I try to limit those as well. I want the expert to have an enjoyable experience, not a horrible experience. After all, I want the expert to be a connection going forward.
- Try not to get too personal. If experts want to get personal in their answers, that's great. But try to avoid getting too personal in the questions you ask, because you may offend your expert or make them feel uncomfortable. Remember: You're interviewing the expert, not leading an interrogation.
- Request additional information. By additional information, I mean that you should request a head shot and a preferred bio--along with any links. To make the interview worth the expert's time, you should afford them an opportunity to promote themselves and their projects in their bios.
Once the Interview Goes Live...
Link to it on your social networks and let your expert know it is up (and include the specific link to the interview). If you're not already searching for your next expert to interview, be sure to get on it.
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