Networking doesn’t come easily or naturally to all. With so many connections nowadays starting online, it can often feel awkward and intimidating to write networking messages. The most successful messages are short and succinct. The purpose of your email should be implied within the first two sentences and very clear by the last sentence. People are busy, so don’t include long-winded bios; however, it can be helpful to say a few key pieces of information in your first line, including:
- Who you are
- How you found them
- Why you are reaching out
For example: I am at postdoc in my fourth year at NCI. I found your contact information in the NIH Alumni Database and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your career path in ___.
Here are some other types of networking emails:
If sending a cold message, it will ideally take them less than one minute to read and will be very convenient for them. If you are trying to set up a Zoom informational interview, list two to three concrete dates/times that they could choose. Make it as easy as possible for them to respond to you. If you find you aren’t getting responses to any cold emails, review your wording and make sure to adjust it accordingly. Some common mistakes fall around lacking specificity in your message. Here are some examples and remedies:
Subject Line: Requesting Info à Subject Line: NIH Postbac Interested in Consulting
Can we meet sometime this week? à Does this Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday between 4-6PM EDT work for you?
What advice do you have for getting into this field? à This is likely too
much to type out so try to get this information from a conversation instead by
asking, “I am exploring options and am interested in hearing how you went from
X to this field.”
APPLICATION NOTIFICATION EMAILS
In the excitement and rush to apply for an online posting, some job seekers neglect to check in with known contacts at an organization. Before you apply to a role (and if job closing timelines allow), try to notify your contact and let them know your plans. This is also the chance to thank them again for their guidance/insights and ask if they have any other suggestions before you apply. Many times, contacts can internally refer you which can greatly benefit your application’s chances. If you find yourself at risk of missing an application deadline, go ahead and apply, and then notify your contact afterwards.
THANK YOU EMAILS
Anytime you speak to someone in an interview or an informational interview, you should send a thank you note after the meeting. Some people simply forget to do so and others aren’t sure what they should write, so they don’t do so.
It can be helpful when you schedule you meeting to also schedule fifteen minutes on your calendar for the thank you note. That way it is already built into the meeting time. You can start your note with a simple sentence thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. Then, if possible, share a specific insight or advice that you found helpful. This shows that you are a thoughtful professional and it will hopefully help move you from a forgotten contact into a referred job applicant.