You CAN reach out to professional contacts and ask for informational interviews during this time, BUT here are some things to remember in the process:
1. Be mindful of the current climate. In your email, make sure to note the current circumstances so your note doesn’t read as tone-deaf. I would hold off on reaching out to anyone that would be in an “essential worker” or certainly a “first responder” category. For example, executives in the grocery industry are slammed right now and many are helping out in-stores just to make sure shelves are stocked/etc.
2. Manage your expectations. Depending on your relationship with this person, they are either going to ignore your email (FINE), write you back and say they are too busy with everything going on (FINE), or they will set up a time with you. Whatever happens, is fine, the important part is that you are doing what you can to move forward and advocate for yourself in a difficult situation.
3. Don’t be too aggressive. Usually, I’m all about the follow-up but in these times, we need to make sure we’re extra sensitive to what people might be going through (personally or professionally). I’d recommend doing follow-ups every 3-4 weeks rather than every 1-2 weeks.
4. Think of other ways to learn from them/connect to them. If the professional contact doesn’t get back to you OR tells you they are too busy to connect, think of other ways you can connect with them or learn from them. Can you connect on LI? Have they posted any interesting articles on their feed? Do they have an active presence on Twitter or Instagram? Do they do any IG Lives? Perhaps you can research their work history and read any interviews they’ve done. Just because people cannot make themselves available to you on the phone doesn’t mean you can’t still learn from them.