How to Start a Networking Email
The other day a friend asked for my advice on how to begin a networking email. To best answer her question I (of course) consulted our WetFeet library and discovered: we’re lacking insight on this topic!
So I decided to do a little research. There are a few reasons you may be sending someone a networking email, and there are a few ways to do it. Of course, you should always have some sort of mutual connection—I don’t recommend sending a “cold email.”
Below are four ways to begin a networking email. What follows these intro paragraphs should be a brief (5 sentences, max) overview of your skills and where you’re currently working. I would suggest not attaching your resume to this first email—only once you have a good rapport going, and the contact asks for more detail on your background, should you send a resume. And, of course, do not treat a networking email as a request for a job or interview—unless one is offered up by the contact.
Scenario 1: You got their name/info from a mutual contact (and the mutual contact has told them you’ll be reaching out).
My former colleague, Jane Doe, gave me your contact information to set up a networking interview. As I'm sure she mentioned, I'm looking to change jobs in the coming months, and I’m interested in breaking into public relations. I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to meet with me for lunch. I'm looking for any advice and suggestions on how I can improve my networking skills and overall job search.
Scenario 2: You’re reaching out to a peer in a professional organization.
We both belong to the Philadelphia Social Media Professionals Association, and I have long been a fan of the email updates you send out about trends in SEO writing. As a newcomer to the industry, I’m looking to make connections in the field and as an admirer of your email updates, I thought you would be an excellent source of information and advice. I was hoping we might be able to meet up for coffee sometime, at your convenience.
Scenario 3: You’re reaching out to an alumnus from your university.
I located your contact information in the University of Timbuktu alumni network and I was hoping we might be able to connect over the telephone for 15 minutes at your convenience. It would be great to learn more about your background including how you got started in private equity at Company X and to connect with a University of Timbuktu alum.
Scenario 4: You’re reaching out to a connection you met at a career fair, industry event, dinner party, etc.
We met on Tuesday evening at the DC’s Society for LEED Architects happy hour. I really enjoyed our conversation on space planning, and I was wondering if you’d like to meet up for lunch sometime this week. I’m always looking to make new connections in the industry, and I’d love to hear more about your background and what you’re currently working on.