Networking Emails Designed to Get Responses
The art of networking is a skill professionals today need to embrace, but making the first move can be intimidating. Before you reach out to contact someone you’re hoping to network with, you'll want to carefully consider how to do it.
Sure, you can send a Facebook message, but that's probably too familiar. Twitter? Way too public. LinkedIn is a possibility, but many people tend to ignore messages from people they aren't connected to. Email is your best bet.
According to statistics, email is still the most popular online activity with more than 82 percent of Internet users checking it daily. Often, the difficult part is knowing what to say. As you sit down to write your email, consider the relationship—if any—you have with the person. This is what's going to shape the approach and tone of the email, along with helping you to identify any potential tidbits you can include to help promote the relationship.
Someone You Just Met at An Event or Conference
If you've recently met someone you want to get to know better, you have some familiarity and an "in" to approach them. The sooner you reach out, the better, because the introduction is still fresh in his or her mind.
It was great meeting you at [name of event, conference or other circumstance]. I enjoyed our discussion about [topic] and would like to continue the conversation. If you have time to meet up for lunch or a cup of coffee, please let me know. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts about [include something specific].
Alternately, if you were introduced but didn't get the chance to talk, you could express interest by saying something like:
It was great to make your acquaintance, and I'm sorry we didn't have the opportunity to talk more. I'd love to learn your thoughts on [subject]. Would you be interested in meeting up for a cup of coffee?
'Cold' Email to Someone You Don't Know
Writing to someone you've never met and has no clue of who you are can be tricky. You'll need to give them a reason why they should open and actually read your email. Do your homework before you reach out and try to find a common talking point that'll spark his or her interest.
My name is [insert your name]. I've been following you on [Twitter, LinkedIn, their blog, etc.] and enjoy reading your insights on [topic or expertise - be very specific]. You always offer great takeaways. I was wondering if you could spare a few moments to discuss [topic - again be specific]. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject in further detail.
Alternatively, if you know the person because of a shared connection, you can mention this after you introduce yourself and explain your interest or experience in his or her expertise.
Tip: Don't name-drop for the sake of it. Be sure it's appropriate to mention your contact.
An Acquaintance You Met Long Ago and Want to Reconnect With
If you're certain your recipient will remember you, you can address them directly. However, if you're unsure, you'll have to include wording to spark a memory of your connection.
I recently recalled a discussion we had at [event, conference or other circumstances], and I immediately thought of the great input you gave. I'd love to pick this conversation back up. Currently, I'm [working on a project, job-seeking, etc.] and would be interested to know your thoughts on the current situation of [industry trend, job market, etc.] over a cup of coffee. Are you available to meet next week?
General Rules of Thumb
When using email to reach out and network with someone regardless of your relationship with them, here are some general rules to follow:
- Always address your recipient by name (be sure it's spelled correctly!)
- Find a common interest or talking point
- Be polite but concise—short and sweet is best
- A little flattery can go a long way
- Include an eye-catching email subject headline
- Following up on our conversation from <event>
- Your blog post on <topic> is very inspiring
- Aspiring < job title > looking for expert advice from a pro
The key is to be direct, interesting, and personal. You want to present your email in such a way the person will a) be intrigued enough to open it, and b) see it in their inbox (or at least pops out as something of interest in their spam).
If you can swing all of this in a short note, you'll better your chances of your networking email being read.