The Importance of Email
Unless you are very well connected, the reality is that most business relationships start out cold. The most common initiation ritual is the cold email. Despite the rise of social media and the popularity of platforms like LinkedIn, the business world still runs on email – and it will most likely continue to do so for a long time. The importance of emails in networking cannot be overstated. While in-person networking may be more personal and impactful, you will often need to write a good number of emails either before the coffee chat or if it is a larger group event, follow-up emails to stay in touch with the professionals you connected with. So, long story short, make sure you can write effective emails!
Keys to Writing an Effective Networking Email
Be Concise: The professionals you are reaching out to are likely to be very busy and would not be too happy to have to read a page and a half email from some college student asking for an internship. This is unfortunate, but you most likely won’t make it past the first few lines before they hit delete...
Know Whom You're Reaching Out To: You don't want to send a generic email that may be applicable to almost every professional in the field or company – it's usually quite obvious. Instead, you want to conduct some basic background research on the person you are contacting before sending the email so you end up with a personal, tailored message. At the minimum, you should know where the person you are contacting has worked and / or studied before and what makes them a relevant contact.
Establish Your Connection: In your email, make sure you articulate your connection to the person you are reaching out to. You should start by picking someone you have something in common with. Typically this will be an alum or a parent of a student from your college or university. There are no set rules here, but by emailing someone with whom you share a connection and establishing that relationship in the email early on, you can increase your chances of getting a reply and of them helping you.
Be Prepared to Follow Up: It's important to remember that the professionals you are reaching out to are likely very busy. If you send an email and don’t hear back after a couple of days, don't automatically assume that they are not interested in helping you – there's a good chance that they were planning on getting back to you but had other more urgent emails come up. In this case, it can be very helpful to send a gentle follow-up email. However, if they “miss” a second email, then they most likely are truly don't have the capacity to help or don't want to be bothered. That being said, if you want to be very persistent, you can always follow up one more time the following week.
Networking Email Templates
Not sure where to begin? Check out our templates below!