You want me to write NETWORKING EMAILS? Why would anyone possibly want to network with ME?
My heart ached earlier this week when I heard a smart, talented person use those words.
This person is thinking hard about what’s next in her career and life. She’s trying to decide whether she can stay where she is and reshape her current environment—or whether it’s time to move on.
This is no shrinking violet, either. She’s confident, and well-equipped to hold her own in conversations.
But she’s getting in her own damn way.
Like so many of us, she’s hitting her head against her own, self-created brick walls, holding onto dangerous assumptions about how career growth really happens.
- If someone really needed me in their workplace, they’d find me.
- People post jobs online and my resume will magically be matched to it.
- My existing contacts will advocate for me–they know I’m thinking about change.
- If a change was meant to be, it should be obvious.
- And if any of those things don’t happen, it must mean I’m not good enough, accomplished enough, or worthy of a better job or life.
I want to yell “THAT’S SO STUPID!”
Instead, I’m taking a deep breath and will now say “That’s so ill informed.”
Because here’s the truth:
Career growth only happens with the help of other people.
If we’re not telling people where we want to go, how can we expect them to help point the way?
You’ve got to start somewhere to connect with real, honest-to-goodness human beings. You need them, and they need you.
How do you get started?
You could go door-to-door, talking to every human you meet.
But that would be a little weird.
So why not try another route: the well-crafted networking email.
Why Networking Emails are Important
Opportunities don’t fall from the living room ceiling, no matter how many inspirational magazines or books you read.
So you’ve GOT to learn to connect and stay connected—otherwise known as networking.
Sure, you probably know this. But yet you avoid it, with excuses like:
- I don’t have time
- I don’t know who to ask
- I don’t know what to ask
- I don’t know how to start
Well my friend–here’s how to start.
I’ve written the emails for you here. So you’ve got no more excuses.
Networking Email Script #1: Direct to the Target (even if you don’t know them well)
This is the networking email you send directly to a person you know somewhat, and who you’d like to talk to further.
- Someone in another part of your current company who you don’t work with day-to-day;
- A person you know through a professional association or personal activity (such as a neighbor, or parent at your child’s school);
- A colleague or vendor you used to work with, or
- Someone working at a company you’re interested in learning more about.
This email assumes you have some level of connection, even if it’s a small one.
(If there’s absolutely no connection, go to email #3.)
Finally, just like your GPS warns, use your judgement. Make sure it sounds like you and makes sense as you add in the parts that are specific to the person, and to you.
But don’t wait for perfection. Decide who you’ll reach out to, and start connecting now.
SUBJECT: Hello, and could we reconnect?
Hi [Name]! I hope all’s well in your life and your work. [NOTE: if you have specific relationship info here to include, like “I hope all’s well with Sue and the girls”, use it.]
I was thinking about you the other day and know that you [THE REASON WHY YOU’D LIKE TO CONNECT, such as went through a major career change several years ago, used to work with people at Company X, have had a long and successful career in X field, etc.)
So I wanted to reach out and ask for your suggestions. I’m doing some big-picture thinking about what’s next for me in my career, and one of the areas I’m interested to learn more about is [THEIR AREA OF EXPERTISE OR BACKGROUND.]
Would you be open to a short conversation with me to share your perspective and ideas? I’d be happy to [come to your office, meet you for breakfast, schedule a call] at your convenience. Plus, it’d be great to reconnect and hear more about what’s happening for you.
Let me know if you’d be willing, and we’ll get something scheduled. Thanks for your consideration, and I hope to talk to you in person soon!
[YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE: make sure it includes your phone number and link to your LinkedIn profile if it doesn’t already. If it doesn’t, set that up in your settings immediately.].
Networking Email Script #2: Following Up When You Don’t Hear Back
It’s inevitable that busy people have busy email boxes.
And emails get lost.
Happens to me, happens to you.
But don’t assume that no response equals no interest.
If you don’t hear back after a week, follow-up.
And then follow-up again after another week.
Polite, persistent follow-up matters.
Remember, the people you want to connect with are busy adults with lives. And as adults, they have the free will to say yes or no to your inquiry.
So don’t assume that not hearing from them means no. It could mean a million other things, not the least of which is that your email got caught in the day’s flood of messages, or even went to spam.
If they don’t want to connect and just want to be rid of you, let them be an adult and respond with an answer.
You’ve nothing to lose, so here’s the email to use.
SUBJECT: Following up; willing to reconnect?
Hi [NAME]! I hope this finds you well. I just wanted to check in again and see if you’d be willing to get a conversation on the calendar to reconnect. As I mentioned in my note of [DATE], I know your ideas and insights will be helpful as I think about what’s next for me, and I’d value reconnecting with you.
Let me know what can work for you. Thanks again!
YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE
Networking Email Script #3: To a Connector who can introduce you to a Target
Perhaps you have someone in mind specifically you’d like to meet.
You look them up on LinkedIn, and see that I know that person.
Or, maybe you have a company you’re interested in.
Again, using LinkedIn, you see I know people working at that company.
That connector can connect you to your target.
But first, you have to ask.
Here’s the email you can use.
SUBJECT: Willing to make an introduction?
Hi [CONNECTOR NAME]! Hope you’re doing well. [Same as above–personalize as you can.]
I wanted to reach out and ask for your suggestions. I’m doing some big-picture thinking about what’s next for me in my career, and I’m interested to connect with more people who [work at Company X, have moved from academics to public organizations, are working in industry Y, etc.]
I thought you may know people who fit those categories who you’d recommend I get to know. Also, I took a look at your profile on LinkedIn and see that you’re connected to [specific names and their companies]. Would you be open to introducing me to one or two of those people?
I’d really appreciate your help or any other ideas you may have for me. If it’s easier for us to talk live, let me know and we’ll set up a time to talk. I know you’re busy and appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks again!
YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE
Where will you start?
So there. I’ve written some networking emails for you.
Where will you get start?
With people you know slightly? Or people you knew well years ago, but need to reconnect with? Or with a connector who can be your bridge to someone new”
No matter where you’ll start, just dive in now.
No more excuses. You can do this.
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