With the rise of digital tools that allow us to do many everyday tasks from home, it’s easy to forget how much we still rely on other people. But if you want to accomplish anything meaningful in life, you can’t do it alone.
This is why networking is so important. When you connect with other people in an authentic, genuine way, it opens up all kinds of opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a better job or a more connected, fulfilling life, networking is the way.
In the internet era, most networking starts with emails. But they don’t teach you how to write networking emails in school, so it can be hard to know where to start.
That’s why I put together this guide. Below, I’ll show you how to write networking emails that your recipient will read and respond to. I’ll also give you some networking email templates that you can use for different situations.
Simply put, networking emails are emails you send to either establish a new connection or nurture an existing one.
Networking emails encompass a lot of different situations. You might be sending an email to a complete stranger you only know about through the internet.
Or, you might be following up with someone you briefly met at a conference.
Finally, you could be checking in on someone you already know but haven’t communicated with in a while.
This diversity means that there’s no such thing as the “perfect” networking email. The right email to send will depend on the situation, the person you’re contacting, and the relationship you have with them.
If you’re like most people, checking email isn’t your favorite activity. So how do you create an email that the recipient will read and respond to? Here are some tips:
Get an introduction
Much of this guide focuses on how to write “cold” networking emails to someone you have no connections with. While this is doable, it’s even better if you don’t have to write a cold email in the first place.
Before you reach out to someone, see if you can get an introduction from someone you already know. After all, you’re much more likely to respond to an introduction from a friend than an email from a stranger.
Of course, this is a fine art in itself. The last thing you want is to ask an already busy person to take the time to write an introduction.
To respect their time, tell the person making the intro why you want to connect with the other person and what you already have in common. This will make it easier (and quicker) for them to write the intro email.
Write a compelling subject line
The best networking email in the world is useless if your recipient doesn’t open it. So you should spend some time crafting an interesting subject line.
Here are some examples of subject lines not to use:
- “Reaching out”
- “May I have a moment of your time?
- “Would love to connect”
- “Can you help me with [BLANK]?”
The above are either vague or not particularly interesting.
In contrast, here are some subject lines that would get me to pay attention:
- “College student looking for marketing career advice”
- “Aspiring freelance writer interested in connecting”
- “[NAME OF PERSON RECIPIENT KNOWS] suggested we talk”
- “Following up from our chat at [CONFERENCE YOU BOTH ATTENDED]”
These subject lines are specific and compelling.
Do your research
When reaching out to someone you don’t know, take some time to research them. The last thing you want is to reference how they work at a particular company or in a particular role, only to learn later that they’ve moved on to something else.
If the person has a common name, try adding the name of the city they live in or the company they work for to your Google search. You can also search LinkedIn directly, which has the added bonus of showing if you have any connections in common.
Make note of any information that could be important to include in a networking email, such as:
- The company where they work
- The industry they work in
- Their specific job title
- Anything you both have in common (college, hometown, etc.)
This information can be great for establishing rapport, and it shows that you’re motivated enough to do some basic research.
Mention things you have in common
Try to find something you and the person have in common and mention it in your email.
Sometimes, this will be as general as working in the same field. Other times, however, you may be able to find something more specific. For instance, I’m much more likely to respond to an email from a fellow alum of my college or someone from my hometown.
Caveat: Don’t be creepy. Mentioning something that you saw on someone’s website or LinkedIn profile is fine; referencing something you dug up in a Facebook post from ten years ago is not.
Compliment their work
People love to get genuine compliments on their work, so don’t be afraid to include one in your networking email. This lets the person know that you not only understand what they do, but that they’ve also helped or inspired you.
For instance: “I loved your recent article about how careers will change over the next 10 years. It’s made me consider what skills I need to learn to stay competitive in the future labor market.”
Whatever you say, make sure it’s genuine and specific. Saying, “I love your work, it’s so inspiring” doesn’t mean much (and can come across as brown-nosing).
Keep it short
The person you’re contacting is already doing you a favor by reading your email at all, so respect their time and keep your networking emails short.
This is especially important if you’re contacting someone for the first time — they don’t even know you, so why would they want to hear your life story?
While there’s no specific rule for how short your email should be, aim to keep it around 3 paragraphs, each of only a few sentences.
Sending networking emails is much easier when you go in with zero expectations.
Remember that no one owes you an answer, so don’t be offended if a person doesn’t respond. And if they respond with something different than what you wanted to hear, accept that.
Adopting this mindset allows you to be grateful when someone does get back to you.
Follow up respectfully
Often, the person you email won’t respond. While it could be because they don’t want to respond, it’s likely that you just caught them at a bad time. When there are dozens of urgent emails in your inbox, it’s easy to push networking emails aside.
To combat this, I recommend sending a follow-up email. However, you need to follow up the right way. Otherwise, you could end up on the recipient’s Spam list.
Here’s how to send a follow-up email without being annoying:
- Wait a week — This is a reasonable amount of time to wait before you follow up.
- Don’t use guilt — Remember, the person you’re emailing doesn’t owe you a response, so don’t try to guilt them into responding.
- Keep it short — Something like, “I just wanted to follow up in case this got buried in your inbox” is plenty.
If you still don’t receive a response after following up, then move on. Sending further emails is unprofessional.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the principles for writing a successful networking email, I want to give you some real-world examples that you can use.
View these as starting points that you can adapt for your purposes, not as ironclad formulas for success. And be sure to replace the text in brackets with the relevant details of the person you’re contacting.
Example 1: College student asking for career advice
Subject: College student looking for [NAME OF INDUSTRY/CAREER] advice
Dear [PERSON’S NAME],
My name is [YOUR NAME]. I’m a [CLASS YEAR, MAJOR] at [NAME OF COLLEGE]. I heard about you [HOWEVER YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT THE PERSON], and I [COMPLIMENT ABOUT THE PERSON’S WORK].
I’m interested in getting into [INDUSTRY/CAREER] once I graduate, and I was wondering if you’d be able to share some advice about how to get started.
Specifically, [SPECIFIC QUESTION FOR THE PERSON]?
Here’s what this template could look like in practice:
Subject: College student looking for coffee industry career advice
My name is Ransom Patterson. I’m a senior English major at The College of Wooster. I heard your interview on The College Info Geek Podcast, and I found your story about opening a coffee shop very inspiring.
I’m interested in getting into the coffee business myself once I graduate, and I was wondering if you’d be able to share some advice about how to get started.
Specifically, how did you find a supplier for high-quality coffee beans to use in your shop? This seems like one of the biggest hurdles to me, and I’d love to hear your expert advice.
Example 2: Following up with a new acquaintance
Subject: It was great to meet you at [PLACE/EVENT WHERE YOU MET]
Hi [PERSON’S NAME],
This is [YOUR NAME]. I’m [REMIND THE PERSON WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO]. I enjoyed talking to you the other day at [WHEREVER YOU TALKED] and hearing your thoughts on [SPECIFIC THING YOU RECALL].
During our conversation, you mentioned that you were interested in learning more about [SPECIFIC THING]. I thought you might find this [ARTICLE/BOOK/VIDEO, ETC.] on the topic helpful.
How are things going in your [JOB, BUSINESS, ETC.] at the moment?
Here’s how you could use this template in practice:
Subject: It was great to meet you at Craft + Commerce
This is Ransom Patterson. I’m the editor-in-chief at College Info Geek. I enjoyed talking to you the other day at Craft + Commerce and hearing your thoughts on the future of work.
During our conversation, you mentioned that you were interested in writing a book about the future of work. I thought you might find this book helpful as you begin the writing process.
How are things going in your business at the moment?
Example 3: Reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while
Subject: How are things going with [SPECIFIC THING]?
Hey [PERSON’S NAME],
It’s been [AMOUNT OF TIME] since we last talked, so I wanted to reach out and see how you’re doing. How are things going with [SPECIFIC THING THE PERSON IS WORKING ON]?
Since our last conversation, I’ve [UPDATE ON THING YOU’VE BEEN DOING]. It’s been [YOUR THOUGHTS/FEELINGS ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING].
When you have a moment, I’d love to hop on a call to catch up. When would be a good time for you?
Here’s how you might use this template in practice:
Subject: How are things going with your new agency?
It’s been a few weeks since we last talked, so I wanted to reach out and see how you were doing. How are things going with growing your marketing agency?
When you have a moment, I’d love to hop on a call to catch up. When would be a good time for you?
Sending a networking email can be intimidating, but the benefits to your career and life are worth it. I hope this article has shown you how to craft the networking email you need to accomplish your goals and enrich your relationships.
Email is just one way you can network remotely. For more ways to network without leaving your house, read this.
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