Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Platform Challenge: Day 25

One way to improve your platform is to make connections with other folks in your field, whether that field is writing, parenting, running, or rocket science. And a great way to make connections while helping establish your expertise in a field is through the act of interviewing experts. Sooo...


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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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Need to catch up or re-visit earlier challenge tasks? Here the most recent:

73 comments:

Daughter1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Ann Williamson said...

Starting my search now! I have a couple of different fields I may attempt, including bipolar disorder, memoir writing, and writing in general. Each would help me as I restructure the organization of my blog.

Anne Kimball said...

Wow, this one is interesting! I have a couple people in mind, so I'll start formulating some questions and then approach them. Good idea!

Julia Tomiak said...

Yikes! These challenges are getting tougher for me- this one will take some time. My blog has book reviews and "word nerd" articles - stuff going on in the book world, literacy, ways to promote reading. Suggestions, anyone?

Amanda Socci said...

I agree with Kelly and Anne. This is a great opportunity to seek experts in many different fields of interest. Multiple interviews lead to multiple blog posts. Additional side benefit of getting a boost to blog traffic, by highlighting others.

Joseph Lalonde said...

This is just what I needed. I've been thinking about doing this for some time but have never gotten around to it. This is the push that I needed.

Erika D. said...

OK, this is a big one, so I'm going to dip yet again into the well of experience.

I've conducted a number of interviews with practicing writers for my newsletter ("The Practicing Writer"). After the interviews appear in the newsletter (and are promoted), I archive them on my site. I'm editing an interview with author Jane Roper right now, to go out at the end of this month in the May newsletter. So I'll count this one as "done."

I wholeheartedly agree with that tip about limiting the questions. I try to keep them to 5, in fact, because even 10 can be too much (and I say that as someone who has been interviewed, too!).

Misky said...

I've approached Celi, who is a self-sustained farmer, at The Kitchens Garden for an interview. I've asked that we discuss how city-dwellers can live a more self-sustained and eco-friendly life. How we can reduce the amount of rubbish we generate, etc. Fingers crossed that she says yes.

That's it from me for the day. I'm off now to write some sporty poetry, which might be more difficult than finding someone to interview!

~ Misky

De said...

Robert, how would you suggest a poet/poetry blog handle this one? What do you consider to be an "expert" in the field of poetry? Someone who is published? Several of us from the PAD have interviewed each other in the past year...does that count?

Anonymous said...

Done! This is unbelievable, but I have an interview set up for this afternoon for my blog! I'm finally caught up with ALL of the tasks. Yay
I sweat this "prove you're not a robot thing" is driving me crazy -- this will be my sixth try!

Kyle Robinson said...

I've set out for an interview hope to hear soon I'll let you know how it goes

Claudette Young said...

Julia, you have so many choices. Lucky you. Let's see, suggestions. Here's a thought. Why not try to grab one of the organizers of LitWorld, the charity that promotes reading and literacy around the world.

Or, you could could go closer to home and try for the Superintendent of Schools in your district and ask about the future of literacy in the school systems, etc.

Or, what about interviewing the director of the Library of Congress. I bet he/she doesn't get asked very often and might be a real coup.

Lucky girl. You get all the great breaks.

Me? I don't know yet. I did a lot of interviewing a couple of years ago. But I have Ideas swirling right now. I'm off to write them down.

Good luck, all. Have a productive day.

Donna said...

Looks like I will not be able to finish the challenge...I flew to Ohio yesterday to help care for my Mom after recent back surgery. Unfortunately, she's back in the hospital with an infection of some type. I really enjoyed the challenges Robert. Thank you again for sharing your encouragement, resources, and knowledge.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,
Donna

Beth Stilborn said...

First of all, warm thoughts for you and your Mom, Donna. I hope she heals well.

Second, I think I can count this as done, as I already do this on a fairly regular basis. I interview both "experts" and emerging/lesser known people on my blog often. I have three interviews coming up in June that I'm very excited about.

Here's a link to a previous one, of the artistic director of the Minnesota Sinfonia about their "Music in the Schools" program:

http://www.bethstilborn.com/music-in-the-schools-minnesota-sinfonia-spotlight-worthy/

Gerry said...

Wow. This is a tough one for me, but I'll think about it. SURELY I know somebody I can interview! Maybe my local indie bookseller? There's a thought . . .

Meanwhile, I'm up against a (self-imposed) deadline to get 150 pages of my novel revised by May 1 (in part thanks to re-organizing my life/time because of MNINB) and I have a guest post to write, so I'm not sure when I'll get this done.

BTW: If you're interested in doing a guest blog for me, have a look at my blog and get in touch via contact on http://gerrygwilson.com. Thanks!

Muddy said...

Hooray! I've already done this! I'm planning on having a Writing Wednesday feature on my blog, and part of that will include interviews. I have a couple lined up and a couple to pursue. Now I can get caught up on some of the previous days' challenges!

CERN Wife said...

Finally! I'm caught up with the daily challenges. I've just emailed a woman that I've wanted to interview. I had actually scheduled 2 blogs on the subject of "Art and Science" (during the Day 20 editorial calendar) and interviewing this woman was one of things I had thought I'd do next month in order to write one of those blog posts. So I'm now ahead of my own schedule for the first time ever.

Bonnie Vesely said...

This is timely for me! After our twitter chat last night, I drafted interview questions for a non-fiction book that I have in the works, with the idea of featuring some of the interviews on my blog. And I had planned to ask someone I'm seeing this weekend for an interview, but will email her today instead.

the whatnot shop said...

Technically, I have already done this on my Suite101 page when I interviewed
Kiley from Truth on Earth.
However, I am up for the challenge! Thank you!! Gotta run and play chauffeur. ..

the whatnot shop said...

Oh ... and I also interviewed Moira Gentry about social networking...
Social Media Marketing Made Easy.
:-D

Brandi Amara Skyy said...

i'm really kinda excited about this one. i've had an interview idea for a couple of people and this confirmed that i needed to take that step.

i'm planning on doing a documentary in the summer with lots of experts so i'm marking this one as done, June 2012 :)

Mary Bauer said...

My blog is Artistry of Education. I will interview the Education Outreach Coordinator of the local theater and write a post about integrating arts in the public schools. It will be a win for both of us.

Misky said...

My 'expert' has agreed to interview, and I just emailed a doc file with all my questions. Hope to have it go live within the week. The subject of the interview is Down-Sizing: Simple and Sustainable Living

Lynn Daue said...

Can I call this done? I recently interviewed Shannon Miller (America's Most Decorated Gymnast) for an article that was published in the April issue of Baltimore's Child.

http://www.baltimoreschild.com/articles/index.cfm?fuse1=detail&ArticleID=2179

Gerry said...

Ha! Request for interview sent! Even if she says no, I've given it a shot. As has so often been the case with the MNINB platform challenge, I've pushed my boundaries a bit. It feels good.

Will let you all know how it goes.

Thanks, Robert!

De said...

DONE! :) Thanks to one Miss Khara House, who has graciously offered to let me interview her in May. I consider her an accomplished poet, both in talent (MUCHO) and actual accomplishments (she's published, and currently teaches poetry). THANK YOU, Khara! :)

Anonymous said...

Another thing I had never thought about. Another idea that I love. This opens up so many possibilities! I commit to doing this TODAY...right after the zumba class.

Romelle Broas said...

As I was working on my guest blogging pitch, I thought about others being guest on my blog. So after I wrote my pitch, I already went ahead and wrote interview questions for people I'd like to have on my blog. Yay! I'm a step ahead. I plan to post it on Friday when I think most traffic occurs. Is it? That would be an interesting question:
1- what day of the week is a good day to post (blog)?
2_ what time of day is it good to post on Twitter?

Susan P said...

This is a good one. I have an expert in mind and I will get right to work formulating a request. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I never thought about doing things this way. Thanks.

Claudette Young said...

Am finally getting caught up and will tackle the interview subject this afternoon or evening.

I used to do interviews a couple of times a week two years ago. The pace was exhausting, but will be glad to do one now. It's something I've been thinking of doing anyway.

Thanks, Robert. Good luck to all on this great little exercise.

Khara House said...

All done! Seriously, Robert, you're kind of killing me with some of these though, ha-ha! When it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone, I have officially jumped off of my comfort continent with this challenge! I am happy for this, though.

For anyone trying to come up with experts to write to, you might want to try the Poets & Writers directory of writers; they have contact info for a lot of great writers, and most who post their emails are open to most communication, so who knows what could come of it! :)

J. B. Everett said...

I'm still trying to fit the blog with my fiction writing without writing about writing. I thought it would be cool to share stories of other women who have changed directions after kids, so that's what I'm shooting for. I've asked a woman I met who decided to study acupuncture. Hope she says yes!

Melanie Cole said...

Done! Just sent off an email to my expert of choice. Great challenge!

Pat Walsh said...

This one is relatively easy for me, since I've freelanced for so long... Done.

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Eek! I just sent a request to writers of my favorite history blog!

Donna, warm thoughts for you and your mother.

Romelle, lunchtime on weekdays, various times on weekends.

Congrats to all of you who have been pushing your own limits!

Kirra said...

I just sent my request. I'm excited and can't wait to hear back!

Jennifer said...

I did it. I asked someone if I could interview them. The whole time I was typing the e-mail I wanted to apologize for taking up their time, but I didn't. They'll either say yes or no and that's okay. I finally asked someone. Thanks for the push.

hcfbutton said...

I'm going to have to do this over the weekend simply because my time over the next couple of days is insane! Looking forward to it, because I have several people in mind, I just don't know what specifically to ask these architects and specialists.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I'm thinking... This one is definitely a little (lot) scary to me. How do I get around my "it's just a little blog" mentality...

Jo Ann J. A. Jordan said...

I made the request, I don't know if it will be accepted, but I tried.

Done

Laura Diane said...

So funny. I did this arlier today before even seeing the challenge for Day 25. DONE! Whew! Got the interview in the can and will work it into the blog later in May. So cool!

meenarose said...

1. Send email to Poet who has been winning a lot of poetry awards of late asking for interview. - Done
2. Interview target accepted - Done
3. Questions drafted - Done
4. Questions e-mailed out - Done


Woot!

Gerry said...

Done! Interview invitation accepted. Will run in late May or early June because of the writer's schedule! Yay!

Lara Britt said...

I've been asked to do reviews/interviews on my blog, but I told them that I would think how I could make that work with my target reader in mind.

I just came back from talking with another docent about being interviewed for my piece when I discovered this challenge. My idea is to interview them as a potential character prototype in a piece of fiction. Thought I could have some serious information brought out in a quirky & fun kind of a way.

Janann Giles said...

I know who I am going to interview - so am off to make a contact

Diane said...

I have been doing this for awhile now. I actually like interviewing and sharing on my blog.

GoingVeggie said...

My podcasts all include interviews with authors of gardening or veggie cookbooks, health food store owners, doctors prescribing chocolate and more. I always prepare a rough list of questions, but I am going to do this one totally in print instead of over Skype or in person. This is actually a stretch for me. Thanks, Robert!

GoingVeggie said...

My podcasts all include interviews with authors of gardening or veggie cookbooks, health food store owners, doctors prescribing chocolate and more. I always prepare a rough list of questions, but I am going to do this one totally in print instead of over Skype or in person. This is actually a stretch for me. Thanks, Robert!

Skipperhammond@gmail.com said...

I've been wanting to do interviews. This challenge is just what I needed to push me to write the request

Lynn said...

I'm working on it!

Nicole said...

Hey, Nicole here. I'm a day late with this one but I have requested an interview from a fellow movie reviewer. Until tomorrow.

Lauri Meyers said...

Thank you, exactly the info I needed when I needed it!

Barbara Morrison said...

Done, or at least the email sent.

Misky said...

Final draft of interview approved by my expert, so we'll go live with it Friday morning. I'll post link here tomorrow.

Susan Craig said...

Done. Request sent, waiting for reply. But a great push. I now have a list of other experts to ask!

Misky said...

Interview is now posted at http://miskcooks.com/2012/04/27/interview-with-an-expert-sustainable-simple-living/

Hope everyone has a moment to stop by for read and comment. Thank you!

~Misky

Misky said...

I just created a pdf file of the Interview a Expert post for downloading at my blog -- in case people don't want to sit online reading it.

Lynn said...

Done and she accepted, so I'll post when I get her answers back.

MaryPf said...

Choices, choices. Of course, it would be special to chose someone famous, but I have a few possible contacts with newer authors. An interview with one of them might be a nice boost and publicity. Not a way to add to my own readership though. I need to think about this before I jump in.

GoingVeggie said...

Whew! Almost caught up! Done or at least secured and started. I will post when all is edited. I am THRILLED that the owner of an importing company of unusual and healthful mushroom teas consented to an interview! I must say that although I have known her for over a year, I would not have considered her for my regular audio podcast interviews because of the (Korean/English) language barrier. This idea of an email interview is perfect! Thanks, Robert. Your challenge has opened yet another door.

Michelle Reynoso said...

I conducted an interview series last year, and here are links to several of them. I'm counting this as done.

Kelly Creagh: http://bit.ly/JJUxXI

Megan Hart: http://bit.ly/Jg7c1F

K Patrick Malone: http://bit.ly/JuppKE

Allison Winn Scotch: http://bit.ly/JjopV1

Terin Tashi Miller: http://bit.ly/auU5c7

Denise Stanley said...

So far this is only the second task I will need more time for. I think I'd enjoy this one more than doing a guest post.

Kerry said...

Had to think for a bit about who I could interview, but then had a positive response from a counselor/therapist, which fits in with my characters' struggles. Thank you for this fantastic opportunity.

Blyth McManus said...

This one I will have to tackle in May. So far this is just the second task I have not completed. Onward!

Joy Weese Moll said...

Done! I interviewed fellow April Platform Challenge participant, Dana Dampier about her blog and poetry. As an experienced blogger, she had a lot to offer: <a href="http://www.joyweesemoll.com/2012/04/30/interview-poet-and-blogger-dana-dampier/>Interview: Poet and Blogger Dana Dampier</a>

Joy Weese Moll said...

Done! I interviewed fellow April Platform Challenge participant, Dana Dampier about her blog and poetry. As an experienced blogger, she had a lot to offer: Interview: Poet and Blogger Dana Dampier

Kendra Merritt said...

Done, though it'll be a while before it's posted. And she has to say yes first. Hopefully Carol Berg will agree to talk about the disabilities in her fantasy works.

Kasie Whitener said...

Done. I found someone who follows me on Twitter and works for Ken Blanchard's Leadership org.

Thanks!

Paul Ellis said...

Done! http://dsnite.blogspot.com/2012/04/interview-request-mninb-day-25.html

Sarah Crisman said...

Powerful challenge! First thing in the morning, I cold-emailed my radio hero, Jesse Thorn. He immediately accepted and we had the interview out by the end of the day!

Thank you for knocking me into shape. I am more aware of my active potential.

My interview with Jesse Thorn: http://bit.ly/RvwaNz

Monica Miller said...

I did it! I sent out an email asking an expert for an interview! Hooray!

These things that I thought were so far out of my comfort zone are turning out to be not as bad as I thought. My imagination seems to be able to come up with things much worse than reality.

Maybe I'm just getting more comfortable with being outside of my comfort zone. Exercised by use!

Fears are being dispelled.

Thank you, Robert.

Praise the Lord!

Pennie De Witt said...

I did this yesterday and forgot to give you feedback. Had to slow down on these assignments due to health problems, but by now this challenge has forced me to stay on track with my writing, even when I'm not well, so that's good. Thank you for the advice on how to approach interviewing an expert. I couldn't do any of this without you.

Pennie De Witt said...

I asked and my expert said "Yes"! I wrote and sent my interview questions today. I'm so excited!