Networking. It’s a word with a lot of preconceived notions attached to it. And a lot of people think its more difficult or unattainable than it really is. I’ve had a lot of networking failures and successes over the years, and I wanted to share some of the networking tips and tricks I’ve learned. This will be the first post in a series of “Networking Tips” posts.
The focus of this post is on networking emails, a very important but underlooked aspect of networking. The sample notes below are real notes that have been successfully used, but names and details have been changed. Some of these notes focus on contacting people you don’t know but that would be useful to your career or job search. Others are for connecting to people you do know but need to make a networking “ask” of.
As a general rule, don’t be afraid to contact people you don’t know. I’ve had plenty of success with this as long as your reasons for connecting are clearly explained and relevant to the person.
How to Contact:
There are a number of ways to find the contact information of a networking contact. Maybe they gave you their card directly, or a friend gave you their contact information. Maybe their email is listed on a website.
The best thing to do is email the person. A call will be too out of the blue and they will likely be caught off guard, which is not what you want. Sending an email for the initial contact is the most respectful and shows you value the networking contact’s time.
If their contact information is not online, look for them on LinkedIn. While Facebook is launching a job search service, Facebook is typically for more personal use and a request for introduction on Facebook should be avoided or only used as a last resort. Same rule goes for Twitter – only tweet a meeting request as a last resort.
If you have the person’s contact information, email them. If you have a third party connection via Linkedin or that you otherwise know about, it’s always best to have that person make the introduction for you to your networking contact.
If you are having someone else make an introduction, its best to include a note that they can sent along. That way, your friend can just forward that note along to the networking contact with their personal reasons for making the introduction, and it saves them time. This guide from The Start-up of You on making introductions between two other people explains this concept well and has some other great tips.
LinkedIn – If you can send your networking contact a message, do that. When I was job searching, I found the paid versions of LinkedIn valuable because I could send messages to anyone. If you are unable to send a message without adding them, add them as a connection. The following is the most important tip though, and a personal pet peeve of mine. If you do not personally know the person you are adding, you MUST include a note with your reasons for connecting in the request. If you don’t include a personal note when adding them and they don’t know who you are, they will probably just ignore the request.
E-mail – Your networking note via e-mail can be similar to the LinkedIn messages. You can also add a sentence on what you are currently working on or where your interest in the organization or industry comes from. LinkedIn limits space, but with e-mail you can add more background or attach your resume. Even so, it’s best to keep the note brief.
Known Associate – Follow up and career request:
It was great meeting you at the Human Resources Conference in Tampa last week. I was glad to learn more about QBE Corp, it seems like a great organization. I also enjoyed speaking with you about the changes we both see in the recruiting industry.
As I mentioned, I am looking to move to a new position, and you said that several HR positions are opening at your organization. Please do keep me in mind if a position becomes available that fits my experience. I’ve attached a copy of my resume here.
I hope we can keep in touch!
Known Associate – Connection Request:
I hope you are well. I am writing because I recently applied for an Analyst position at XY Corporation in DC and noticed you have a contact there, Joan Smith. Depending on the nature of your relationship with her, I was wondering if you would feel comfortable mentioning my name to her as having applied for this position in case she can flag my application. I’m sure there are many qualified applicants applying, but given my experience doing similar work at RVK Corporation, I believe I am a great fit for the position. Any help you might be able to offer would be most appreciated.
Cold Call – Career Advice:
I came across your LinkedIn profile and I would be very interested in learning more about your work for XYZ International. I am currently exploring new career opportunities and I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have about careers in international development. I am also interested in pursuing a MBA, and I would appreciate your perspective on the impact of your MBA on your career. Could I buy you a cup of coffee at a time of your convenience?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Cold Call – Non-career Related:
I recently read your article in ABC Magazine. I work at HIJ Company and take care of social media and communications. I’d love to connect with you and know more about your work with non-profits. Have a great day!
Cold Call – Career Advice:
I hope this note finds you well. Lizzie Reynolds suggested I get in touch with you about career advice for a career shift to consulting.
For a little background, I graduated from Penn State in June 2010 and I’ve been working for the past two years in marketing for TYC Corp. I am interested in shifting to management consulting because of the organization-wide strategy work I’ve done for TYC Corp in addition to my marketing role. I would greatly appreciate any advice or ideas you might have about making this career shift given your experience in the industry and your own shift from HR to consulting. I’ve attached my resume here for your reference.
Might you have some time to speak via phone at a time of your convenience in the next few weeks? Thank you for your time and help in advance.
After someone introduces you to someone else, here is what your follow-up note should look like:
Dan – Thank you for the introduction to Ralph (moved to BCC).
Dan told me about your work for RHD Ltd. and I am very interested in learning more about the organization’s work in healthcare. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with you to learn more about your experience working for RHD. Might you be available for a conversation in the next few weeks? Please let me know what time and day works best for you. I’ve attached a copy of my resume for background.
I look forward to speaking with you.
Cold Call – Non-career related:
I hope this note finds you well. I saw that you worked for YT Institute. I am currently a Fellow at BH Institute. Our work focuses on career services for low-income women. I am very interested in learning more about YT’s work and seeing if there are opportunities for our organizations to collaborate given our similar efforts on career training. Please let me know if you have a few minutes to speak by phone at a time of your convenience.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you notes:
It goes without saying that you should always send a thank you note within 24 to 48 hours of speaking with someone. You should also send a thank you note and follow up to anyone that has connected you to someone. It’s also nice to send short one-line thank you notes to people you add or that add you on LinkedIn.
After a networking call or meeting:
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me this morning. Your honest and thoughtful advice is extremely helpful as I navigate this new field. I plan on subscribing to the journals that you mentioned, which will be very informative. I’m also revising my resume to incorporate your feedback. I will certainly keep you updated on my job search.
Thank you again, and have a wonderful weekend!
After someone adds you on LinkedIn:
Hi James – Nice to connect!
Keeping in Touch:
I find it really valuable to keep in touch with people. If you see a contact updated their job on LinkedIn, shoot them a congratulations note. Or send contacts a short note saying you just wanted to say hello and see how they are doing. For major contacts, it’s good to just send short and sweet reminders that you exist. But don’t make the notes too regular, once to twice a year when you have no new major updates is plenty.
Just wanted to say hello and hope you are doing well. Work at VVC has been busy, but I was promoted in June and I’m really enjoying the challenges.
Did you finish that major project you were working on when we last spoke in January? Would love to hear how you are!
All the best,