How to draft a networking email

photo of hieroglyphicsSometimes you have to email a stranger (or near-stranger) and ask a favor. No matter how far along in your career you may be, it feels awkward. I have a formula that pushes through the awkwardness, based on what I like to see in emails I get.

  1. The greeting – explain who you are and how you are connected to (or found) the person you’re writing to.
  2. The ask. Make it quick and clear.
  3. The acknowledgement. You are asking this person for a gift – their time, their effort, their contacts – whatever. Make it clear you know you are not entitled to this
  4. The closing. Express your gratitude for their effort.

And you’re done. I don’t follow up if you don’t hear back; I find someone else to write to.

Here’s a sample:

Dear Captain Kirk,

I found you on LinkedIn; we’re both connected to Commander Spock. I’m a PhD student writing my dissertation on inter-species communications in conflict situations. I was hoping you could spare about 30 minutes for a video call with me – I hope to use the Enterprises’s first and 50th missions as case studies, and having your input would make my dissertation much stronger. I know you must be very busy, and I’d be grateful for any time you could spare.

sincerely,

Regina Phalange