informational interviewing mid-career

Hey, so I'm doing a mid-career job search.
I am told the right way is still to do "informational interviews".
Oh, lawdy I hate those.
But ok, so how does one do IIs well, and what questions can I ask?
I'm trying to move from PE in Asia to VC in US.
So to an extent I can ask "tell me about the West Coast scene in VC."
But beyond this, the whole process is deeply disingenuous.
"Tell me about VC." - nope. I have a decent idea from my time in industry, and asking this is lame.
"Tell me about your firm." - nope, because they may not be hiring.
"Tell me what resources I might use to find a job." - maybe, but sounds desperate.
And how does one ask them to refer their friends?
That's a difficult segway to make.

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Sep 7, 2018