The purpose of a networking outreach email is to request an informational interview, either from someone who is already in your network or from a new contact (see Networking Guide). You are more likely to get a positive response if you follow the guidelines below.
- Have a subject line that will catch the person’s attention (for example – says “Hamilton” for alums, says name of person who referred you, etc.)
- Introduce yourself with relevant details that help the reader understand what stage of career planning/searching you are in.
- Explain why you have chosen him/her to reach out to and state your goal for the meeting.
- Specifically ask for a meeting and be clear about how you wish to meet (in person, by phone or Skype) and provide your general availability.
- Be professional (no “love language”, no typos, use appropriate salutation: Dear Mr., Mrs. Dr. etc.)
First Paragraph: Explain why you wish to meet with this particular person (i.e. you are interested in learning more about his/her field or organization) and mention how you received her/his contact information. You do not need to sell yourself as you would to a potential employer. It is more important to inform the reader how you came to learn of this person’s career field or place of employment and how he/she can be of assistance to you. Remember, this letter and subsequent meeting are NOT to be used for job solicitation purposes; rather, you are asking for information and advice regarding your own career exploration or job search.
Body Paragraph: Give a brief summary of your background, skills, and career interests as they relate to this person’s employment to provide some more concrete rationale for meeting with this contact. Build a case for your interest so that the contact can better understand why you would like to meet with her/him.
Closing Paragraph: State that you would like to set up either a phone interview or face-to-face meeting (whichever is more feasible) and that you need less than thirty minutes of this person’s time. Offer a few dates and times that you will be available. You may wish to include your resume so that this person may gain a better understanding of who you are and how your background pertains to what he/she does. If you do choose to send your resume, indicate here that you have enclosed a copy. Mention that you will call to follow up with your letter, but also include your contact information (phone and email address) should she/he choose to get in touch with you. Remember to thank this person for his or her time and consideration.
For a detailed overview of the process of setting up informational interviews, refer to Steps and Tips for Informational Interviewing.