Whether you’re in post-secondary school or on the hunt for a new job, networking is a great way to build relationships and connect with people that could help you in your career. But there is a right, and a wrong, way to make contact with these connections. To help you prepare, here are some things that you can do when trying to connect with professional contacts online.
Taking the time to do a simple Google or LinkedIn profile search on the professional is beneficial because you can use this information to your advantage in the message. If you make it clear that you have done your research, it shows that you are serious about your inquiry and will be sure to impress the professional.
Use the Appropriate Outreach Method
With the increasing popularity of social media, many people are finding it a useful way to network. If you’re going to use social media to reach out to a professional, it’s important to take note of how they are using their social media first. For example, most employers connect with only friends and family on Facebook, but their Twitter is full of tweets about their work. In this case, reaching out on Twitter would be your best bet if you don’t want to overstep your boundaries. But if you have their email handy, sending a personal email would be your best bet.
Have a Clear Call To Action
Before you begin writing your message, you should already know what exactly it is that you want from the contact. Are you interested in an interview? Do you have specific job-related questions? Knowing exactly what you want to write about will help you to be precise and brief in your message.
Have a Statement of Commonality
It’s no secret that people are more likely to help out someone they have something in common with. If you and the professional have similar interests, figure out a nice way to tie that into your message. It also doesn’t hurt to flatter. For example, if you’re emailing journalists, you can mention that you read one of their editorials and bring out a specific point from the piece that you really appreciated.
Professionals are busy. They have tons of emails to read every day. If they open up your email and see an essay formatted piece, chances are they’re going to close the window and continue reading their other messages. For emailing and social media messaging, it’s a good idea to have a clear, focused headline so the professional knows exactly what the message will be about. The easier you make it for them, the better.
Don’t Ask For A Job
This may seem obvious, but it happens often. Before jumping into the “How can I get a job?” question, establishing some sort of connection is a must. Starting off with this question right away comes off as desperate.
Double Check Your Spelling
Having grammatical errors is one of the worst things you can do. It just shows that you put little effort into what you wrote. Your message could be right on the money, but the professional is distracted by all of your typos and grammatical errors. It’s also not a bad idea to have someone read your message before you click “send” – they could catch any mistakes or give advice on what to add or delete to make your message more effective.
Following up does not mean flooding them with messages. You want to show determination, but you also don’t want to seem overly eager. Don’t give up hope if you don’t receive a response right away. It’s best to wait a week to follow up from your initial email. That way the professional is given a few days to respond.