Informational interviews help you explore career options and make connections by giving you a safe environment to ask pointed questions. But there’s a risk: If you don’t make a good first impression, you can torpedo the relationship. Find a balance by being upfront about the help you’re asking for. You may not know exactly where you’re headed, and that’s OK. But you still need to come across in a way that inspires confidence and makes others want to help you. Create a brief positioning statement before you start to make inquiries. It doesn’t have to be 100% clear, but it should give a general sense of what you want. If you aren’t sure, or you’re interested in more than one potential career, just be as specific as you can.
Adapted from the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.