A networking message, usually by email or LinkedIn message, is useful to send to a contact who might be of assistance during your job search. You might communicate about arranging an informational interview, to obtain job search advice, or to request a referral to another professional. Your goal should be to arrange a discussion in person, over the phone, or online so you can ask questions and do more research into an occupation or field. You should NOT ask for a job; instead seek out information.
When to Send
Here are some situations in which you might send a networking communication:
- At an event or perhaps in an informal setting you have met someone and would like to meet them again to talk with them in greater detail.
- You have been given the name of a relevant contact by a friend or colleague who knows you are interested in a particular career field.
- You have discovered the name of a potentially valuable contact through your own research, such as through LinkedIn, on a website, or possibly the author of an interesting industry article.
- Keep the letter concise and have a friendly tone without being too casual.
- Explain to them (or remind them) how you met or how you discovered them (for instance, you have a mutual acquaintance or you read about them in a recent article).
- Be clear about who you are and why you are writing. Emphasize you are seeking information to further your knowledge, not asking for a job.
- Be respectful of their time as busy professionals about 20-30 minutes to talk.
- If they are unavailable, ask if they could refer a colleague with whom you can speak.
- Ask when a good appointment time is and how they would like to meet you (phone, email, in person, Skype).