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Networking Email Best Practices

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20218 min

Networking Email Best Practices

Updated Oct 13, 20218 min
Networking Email Best Practices

Networking Email Best Practices

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20218 min

Networking Email Best Practices

Updated Oct 13, 20218 min
Networking Email Best Practices

Mention networking email, and it conjures images of unsolicited messages from LinkedIn or elsewhere. Like those messages asking “to join your network” from people you’ve never met and don’t particularly want to. But sending a networking email is not as nebulous as you might think, and there are specific circumstances where sending one is a great way to market yourself and build relationships.

This article explains the purpose behind various types of networking emails and when and how to send them. It shows you how to write them depending on the context of the situation and gives you networking email templates, examples for letters of introduction, requests for referrals, career coaching, informational interviews, and more.

What Is a Networking Email?

There is no set definition for networking email. One way to describe it is business-related outreach. Basically, it’s sending an email to someone you would like to have a relationship with for business or career reasons. It's important to create a good first impression when you reach out by writing a professional email that makes the reader want to engage. 

Good examples of when you would send a networking email are when you have attended a conference, met some interesting people, and have promised to follow up or send a document or other piece of information. 

Another instance could be if you hear about a project that an individual is working on similar to your own work, and you would like to connect to collaborate. Even sending a simple thank you is networking.

According to American Genius, email is still the most popular form of communication despite texting and collaborative platforms like Slack. People check their email every day. So, use effective networking emails to your advantage.

Asking for a Referral or Introduction

Many positions are filled through referrals. Asking a contact if they would introduce you or refer you to someone is a totally acceptable way to conduct a job search and find a new job. You would mostly likely be willing to do the same for them, and the person is always free to say no or to ignore you .  

Here’s an example of how to ask someone for a referral.

Dear Jane,

It’s been a while since we talked, I hope you are doing well at Data Systems Incorporated.

I recently left my job at [_____] and am currently pursuing opportunities as a product manager. I am interested in the direction that Data Systems is heading and would love to hear more about their product strategies. 

Would you be willing to refer me to the head of product strategy there, and would you have time for a quick chat over coffee sometime soon?

Best regards,

Thomas

Asking for an Informational Interview

If Jane agrees to refer Thomas, he should send an informational interview request after she has done so to the head of product strategy. Thomas should mention Jane's name as the person who referred him, and he should explain the reason for his email.

Here's an example of a request for an informational interview after a referral.

In the subject line: state the name of the person who referred you.

Subject Line: Thomas Bale: Referred by Jane Dooley

Thomas Bale

210 Kennard Road

Pittsburg, PA 12340

September 16, 2021

David Mottram

Director of Product Strategy

Data Systems, Inc.

Dear Mr. Mottram,

I am a past colleague of Jane Dooley, who is a data manager in your department. I contacted her because I am interested in pursuing opportunities with Data Systems, Inc., as a product manager. Jane gave me some insights into your product strategy and I would be so interested to meet with you to explore ways that I could be of use to your company. 

I feel that my experience with product development and marketing and my latest work would be of interest and an asset to Data Systems.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Thomas Bale

Networking Thank You Emails 

It’s crucial to send a thank you email if someone does something for you that involves their time. That means if they refer you to someone, agree to meet with you, or spend time talking to you over the phone. You might want to contact that person again, and you certainly want to leave them with a good impression in case an opportunity arises in the future.

Here’s an example of a networking thankyou email.

Thomas Bale

210 Kennard Road

Pittsburg, PA 12340

[date]

David Mottram

Director of Product Strategy

Dear Mr. Mottram,

Thank you so much for meeting with me yesterday. I learned so much about the data strategy you are pursuing and remain fascinated by the new products you have in the pipeline. I will follow up with the contacts you gave me and appreciate your professional guidance and advice.

Please keep me in mind for any potential job opportunities as your department grows. I will always be interested in joining your team. 

Regards,

Thomas Bale

Emails to People Without a Referral

How do you write a cold email to someone you don’t have a referral for but who you would like to meet professionally or ask for career advice?

It’s a big ask for someone to agree to meet you if there is no common link. Business people are busy people. For this type of email to be effective, you need to convince the reader that meeting you is worth their time.

It’s important to be as brief as possible in a networking email while still providing pertinent information. Explain why you would like to meet and the broad subject you would like to discuss, but save the details for when you do meet. You can also use the email to whet the appetite of the reader by suggesting you have something they really would like to hear about but not revealing what it is.

You should also explain how you got their name and email address. If you are looking to collaborate with the person, explain why you think a collaboration would be of benefit. Similarly, if you are seeking a job, briefly explain why you are a good candidate.

Here’s an example of a networking outreach message:

Thomas Bale

210 Kennard Road

Pittsburg, PA 12340

[date]

David Mottram

Director of Product Strategy

Data Systems, Inc.

Dear Mr. Mottram,

I recently read an article on your company website that described the product strategy that you are pursuing at Data Systems, Inc. I am writing because I have substantial experience in marketing exactly the types of products mentioned in the article, and have some ideas that might be of interest as you develop your pipeline. 

My background is in data science, and I have developed AI solutions that relate to your latest venture. I worked for five years as a developer and later as a marketer for Technical Solutions Limited in New York. I would be delighted if we could meet or discuss through a phone call any opportunities for collaboration. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Thomas Bale

Sending a Follow-up Networking Email 

Networking events are a great way to build professional relationships. Often, there is a need to follow up after a conversation, perhaps with a link to information, send a document, or send your portfolio to recruiters. Even if there is no need to send anything, following up with an email can solidify a connection and lead to greater things.

Here’s an example of a follow-up email to send after a networking event.

Thomas Bale

210 Kennard Road

Pittsburg, PA 12340

[date]

David Mottram

Director of Product Strategy

Data Systems, Inc.

Dear Mr. Mottram,

It was so interesting to meet you last week at the Data Marketing Conference. I enjoyed learning about your products at Data Systems Inc. and would be interested in collaborating in the future if an opportunity arises. 

I am attaching the podcast that I mentioned to you in our conversation, and below is the email address and contact information of my alum at Carnegie Mellon, who you said you would like to reach out to. I mentioned to him that you might contact him.

You also mentioned a director of product manager at XYZ company who might have an opening for a product manager, and I wondered if you might be willing to connect us?

I hope to see you at the next conference and wish you all the best in your future projects in the meantime.

Regards,

Thomas Bale

While LinkedIn is hailed as a way to make new connections, email is still the most popular form of business communication. It is more personal than a LinkedIn message or social media, and people are more inclined to respond to new contacts that come from a personal email than a LinkedIn network request. Both communication tools, however, have a place.

Summary Tips

Here are some final tips for writing a networking email:

  • Introduce yourself

  • If you were referred by someone, state by who and why

  • If you were not referred by someone, state how you found the person’s name and why you chose to contact them

  • If you met at a conference, state when, and jog the person’s memory, so they remember you

  • Explain the purpose of your email

  • Be brief

  • Always send a thank you if someone takes action for you

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications
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