How to Interview Someone You've Never Met

If you've taken the leap into writing and want to get your work published, you have to get over your shyness and talk with people who have a specific passion or interest. The topic must match closely or be exactly the same for all the people in the article, if you are writing a good essay. For the purpose of this article, we are going to use the music industry.


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    Find a social community in which your focus group works. LinkedIn, Reverb Nation, WordPress, Facebook and MySpace are good ones to start off in. Most people who are willing to brag about what they do and want more advertising to show off their skills and sell more of their product are in one of these places.
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    Start friending people, asking if they are willing to participate in your project, delineate both how it will help them and how it will help others. People want to think of themselves as helpful.
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    People will participate by asking more about your intentions. Make sure your elevator speech is ready (Practice saying it aloud as well). Convince them that people will read what you write and that they will be part of a larger effort.
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    Schedule the interview. Be on time and either meet some place public or at their place of business. To look like a professional, make sure you keep a log and dress like a professional, even if your topic is grunge-music or garbage slinging. People need to see on you the reflection of the kind of output you plan on making on the page/website/blog.
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    Record it. There is no way, unless you have an excellent memory, you will remember everything that was said. If your style will be to write generally about the interview, then don't worry about this step, but if you want to get their words right, exactly as they said them (minus the uhs and the ums or the confidentiality which are not on the record) record it so you can transcribe what they say.
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    Transcribe and write. Write your impressions of the interviewee, write what was said, and then follow it up with how the world might benefit from both your interviewee and knowing more about him or her. Always say something positive, even if its hard. People will come back to read more when they get a little sunshine.


  • Thank them for their time when done. They didn't have to help you, and they just did.
  • Give out your cell number to the interviewee. This gives them a sense of intimacy, that you're not just smoke and mirrors.
  • Come up with some really pertinent questions. People are always looking for something entertaining, but also something really helpful!
  • If you have a day job, say so. Tell them this is just a passion with which you are trying to help others. Work with their timeline.
  • The iPhone Voice Memo app is the best thing I have found for recording. Just make sure it fully activates and is recording before you start.
  • Listen intently, lean just a hair forward, express interest, and look them in the eye and don't look bored. People, despite themselves, want people to like them.
  • Profile pictures are often kept young, because this is the age the interviewee sees themselves as. Don't be surprised when they look older. (the last 2 interviews I did both had young guys with strawberry blonde hair in their pictures but when I saw them in person, both were white haired.)
  • Keep it public, but don't overreach. People come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Outline the ideas that make this a good idea overall. The more you believe in it, the more others will too.


  • Ted Bundy was considered the nicest guy by his neighbors. Don't be a victim. Play it smart.
  • Never meet someone blindly in a quiet place. While we hope to make the world a better place one article at a time, your place of agreement needs to be just a tad public, even if it's a park or a library or a bar.

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Categories: Conversation Skills