Keep the Awkwardness Out of Networking Emails

You’ve been told to network, network, network as a crucial component of your civilian employment search. You’ve attended career fairs, gathered business cards, and joined LinkedIn. Now, what’s the best way to follow up on those connections without sounding awkward, or just like everyone else? Try these strategies to set yourself apart.

##**Tip #1: Remind Them How You Met**##

Avoid “You may not remember me…” and get right to the point. Best to immediately state how you know them rather than hemming and hawing. If you’ve already connected with this person on LinkedIn, check their profile before contacting them to see if they’ve been promoted, assumed a new role, or moved on to a different opportunity.

*"We met in the fall at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce open house (we discussed SEC and Big Ten football, and who LSU might hire as their next head coach). I’m reaching out because I recall that you work at XYZ Widgets. They have some openings in the marketing department that interest me. Could I email you a few questions about what it’s like working there?"*

##**Tip #2: Reconnecting with Someone You Know**##

This time, you won’t need to remind this person who you are, because you are a contact or an acquaintance, but you need a way to open the conversation. Just like tip #1, do your homework and research where he or she is working now, as well as the job title and industry.

*"I see from LinkedIn that you’re doing IT recruiting these days. I hope it’s going well for you. I’m thinking about a similar career move, and wondered what your transition was like. Could I buy you a cup of coffee to talk about it? If your schedule is packed, would you prefer a brief phone call, or a couple of emailed questions?"*

This approach proposes three opportunities for connection: in person, on the phone, and via email, allowing the contact to choose how to connect with you.

##**Tip #3: Industry Leaders, CEOs, Etc.**##

You’ve just had a few moments of inspiring conversation with an industry leader or the CEO of your own company after their keynote speech. You greatly admire him or her, you’d like to stay on their radar, but your self-confidence is plummeting. Never fear.

*"I enjoyed visiting with you after your speech at the XYZ event in Las Vegas in November. I’ve used your advice in my last two interviews with success! They resulted in great conversations about the volunteer work I did while stationed in Afghanistan, something that wouldn’t have come up but for your strategies. Thanks for the help. I look forward to seeing you at industry events in the new year."*

Everyone likes to know their advice or strategies have made an impact, and a brief note of appreciation is always well received. Who knows? He or she could reply with a request for you to keep them updated about your job search.