And why they are a secret to your success.
The other day during a résumé critique one of my customers told me how he had been networking. Something was in the works with a company as a result of him being proactive and knocking on the company’s door.
Not literally knocking on the company’s door; although, that’s a viable option. He had sent a networking email (formally called “approach letter”) to one of the directors at the company asking for an networking meeting, which then lead to further discussions.
Hint: don’t refer to is as an informational interview. The word “interview” turns potential contacts off. You want to meet for a potential contact to get some advice on the position you’re seeking, whether a new career or similar work.
Of course a cold call might have been quicker for my customer than sending a networking email, but he felt sending it was right for him. (By the way, using LinkedIn’s Search Companies feature is a great way to find people at companies.)
For you job seekers who lean more toward introversion, a networking email may also feel more comfortable than calling a director, VP, or a hiring manager. There’s more to a networking email, though, than simply telling the person that you’d like to meet with her.
1. Research the company
With the networking email, first you’ll research the company so you can write intelligently about why you’d like to meet your potential connection. You’ll write highly of the company, selling the company to the recipient of your email. This will show your enthusiasm.
It will also show you took the time to visit the company’s website; read articles online, including business journals; and used other methods to research the company. This is the first step you’ll take to impress the recipient of your networking email.
Hint: you will only send approach emails to companies for which you’d like to work, not companies you’re not to sure of. You are taking your job search into your own hands, and a key to your success will be being proactive.
2. Share your accomplishments
Next you’ll throw in some kudos of yourself. What makes it worthwhile for the marketing manager to meet with you? For example, you gained some valuable skills when you worked at the medical device company in their marketing department.
You authored press releases that drew the attention of many of the media, spearheaded a direct mail campaign that garnered new business beyond what the company had achieved. You contributed to your past company’s past success and will do the same for your future employers.
3. Have a call to action
Don’t forget to indicate in your networking email that you’ll call the recipient. Set a date and exact time. Maybe it’s not your style to indicate exactly when you’ll follow up, but consider that when you put something in writing, you’re more likely to follow through. If, however, you have willpower, you don’t have to indicate a time.
Hint: Also, don’t send approach emails to HR; rather send it to the hiring manager or above. HR’s purpose is to screen candidates applying for an advertised position. Because no position has been advertised, your approach email will most likely be deleted.
4. Follow up
The only thing left to do is picking up the phone and asking the recipient if she received your email. If the person picks up the phone or you have to leave a voice-mail, be ready to explain why you’d like to meet with her.
Following up is the last component of sending a marketing email. I tell job seekers that two or three follow-up calls or emails is all they need to send. They shouldn’t stalk their potential contacts.
Hint: tell your potential contact that you can meet at her convenience. Your discussion doesn’t need to happen over coffee or dinner; you could meet in her office, or merely talk over the phone.
What follows could be a networking meeting or maybe good timing on your part—there may actually be a job the company’s trying to fill, unbeknownst to other job seekers searching the Internet for advertised positions.
The approach email is a great networking tool which worked like magic for my job seeker. Be sure to follow these four steps when sending your approach email to the companies for which you want to work. You will experience success.
Photo: Flickr, Miguel Garces