How to Find and Schedule an Informational Conversation 

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”–Jim Rohn 

When it comes to scheduling and conducting informational conversations, especially concerning building your brand, consider the following: by reaching out to different people and finding out what led them down their path, you can use all that different information in order to make your own decisions about the type of actuary you want to be. 

And the more conversations you have, the more information you have. But how do you find the people you need in order to have those conversations? 

Destination of this Journey 

Today’s destination consists of three things: 

  1. Utilizing at least one of 7 ways to find people for informational conversations, and putting it into action by calling someone.
  2. Contacting them through a step-by-step process.
  3. Scheduling discussions and include relevant information.
    • Make sure you know when you send out your information that the other person knows what to expect and is completely on board. 

Ways To Find Good Candidates to Talk To 

There are seven ways that you, as an aspiring actuary, can take to find good candidates for informational conversations: 

  • Friends/Family
    • They’ll be in your corner, and more likely referring you to someone they know.
  • Alumni networks/Career building centers
    • If your college has an alumni network database, you can use a key word to search for people who have graduated and gone on to become actuaries.
    • If your college does not have this capability, but simply has a career center, you can simply ask how to get in touch with various people.
  • Past Conversation Referrals
    • As you get your first conversations, the people you first talk with will likely lead you to others.
  • Career Fairs
    • This is where you definitely have people meeting other people, and the actuaries you wish to talk with will likely be there in person.
  • Actuarial Conferences
    • There are three steps to meet candidates—by attending live events, finding people who are already speaking and mention how you found them, especially if you found them through a magazine or newsletter.
  • LinkedIn
    • Here’s the key to using LinkedIn: stay with your first and second contacts. The first contacts you have are people you know in person. The second contacts are friends of friends. If you don’t have first, direct contacts, ask a friend of a friend to introduce you to the person or people they know.
  • Actuarial Organizations
    • These include the Society Of Actuaries (SOA), Casualty Actuary Society or the American Association of Actuaries, including regional branches of these groups. 

Reaching Out to People 

First, obtain contact information through the Actuarial Directory on the SoA site, as well as conference and article biographies, where their email addresses are usually at.

When you’re in the directory, put in someone’s name, etc, and you should be able to pull up where they’re working, what kind of actuary they are and so on. The caveat here is that each profile is updated by each actuary who has a file there, so some information could be missing, because not everyone updates their information.

Next, update your conversation tracker.

This will look different for everyone, but it is a way to keep track of who you’ve contacted and who’s gotten back to you, etc.

Finally, schedule the meeting.

This is the last step. Once you’ve scheduled a time with someone, put the time on the calendar. 

Scheduling the Meeting 

There are four simple steps to this process: 

  1. Contact the person in question to request a conversation.
    • Remember: regardless of how you met, make sure they know you’re interested in having a conversation.
  2. Coordinate the Time and Approach.
    • How do you want to conduct the conversation?
    • Do you want it in person, by way of the virtual world, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, the phone (the standard way), or is it going to end up being email/surveys for you?
    • If you choose this latter route, it ends up being more of a Q&A session and you might lose a bit of nuance, but this way works if you’re sending out questions to a lot of people.
  3. Send a thank-you/confirmation email to lock in the time and date, or else they may forget and schedule something else in.
  4. Send a calendar invite to really confirm the date, and it helps them put the appointment on the calendar, too. 

Important Items for Calendar Invites 

  1. If you’ve chosen an in-person conversation, include:
    • The time of the appointment.
    • The location
      • Be as specific as possible, especially if you’re meeting for coffee at, say, Starbucks, and there are two on the same road, but in opposite ends of town.
    • Your cell phone number.
    • Standard Questions.
    • On the day of your conversation, send another confirmation email giving the other person any identifying details, such as, “I’m wearing a pink scarf,” or “I’ll be the one with the purple jacket.”
  2. If you’re meeting in the virtual realm
    • Send the time, your username
    • The link to the event (if necessary),
    • The standard questions, plus any additional info about setup, such as signing into/up for an account, needing a webcam, etc.
  3. If the traditional phone call is how you’re approaching things
    • Send the time of the appointment
    • Both your phone numbers and your standard questions. The reason you should include both your number plus the other person’s is so they can decide last minute if they want to use the phone they gave in the database. If they don’t want to use that phone number, they can call you to let you know they’d rather use a different number for the conversation.

You Have Reached Your Destination 

To recap, here are the three ways you’ve learned to find and schedule informational conversations: 

  1. Utilize one of the 7 ways to find people for informational conversations: this is everything from friends and family to Actuarial Societies.
  2. Contact candidates through a step-by-step process.
  3. Schedule discussions and include relevant information—such as phone numbers, locations and so on.

As you go through this process of finding candidates, keep in mind what you want to learn from each conversation you have, in order to figure out what kind of actuary you want to be, how you want to build your relationships and so on. Get as much information as you can in order to make wise decisions for yourself.

Want more help with your journey?

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Let us know in the comments below – Which one of these principles do you think would be the best for you to focus on for the next month?