Don’t do this when networking - Avarah Careers

Earlier this week, I got the following email from a student at the university where I serve as an assistant director of Career Services and teach in the business school. I get a lot of emails from students, but this one really caught my attention, and not in a good way.

 

Hi Sarah,
I really would like to Network with someone from
JPMs Newark campus. If you have any contacts there that would be great. I would like to get an internship there during either the summer or fall and need to build a connection with someone who works there.
All the best,

 

The email itself is harmless, but as a request for help with networking, this won’t work for so many reasons. When we are networking, we need to stay focused on the recipient and ask “What will motivate this person to help me?”

Sadly, I’m quite certain there are professionals out there making the same mistakes!

So, here is the feedback I shared with the student:
 

  1. Most professionals will not share connections with someone they have never met. This is even more true if the person does not give some background on themselves, or other context for the request. I’d never met him so he should have opened with an introduction and some background, along with why he was reaching out to me specifically.
  2. Nothing in the message helps me help him. A reference to the role(s) or type of work he was looking for would have helped since I have hundreds of connections at this organization in widely varying roles.
  3. He asks for “any” contacts. See #2 – mentioning a specific department, function, or role can help remind me of someone specific.
  4. Likeability is everything, and niceties make a big difference. Opening softly with some rapport building, and most important, ending with a statement of thanks goes a long way.
Here’s an example of a better email that I offered the student:
Hi Sarah,
I hope that you are doing well and didn’t get too buried under the recent snowfall. My name is
XXXXXX and I am a (year) student at Lerner studying (major/minor). I’m writing because I was wondering if in your role with Career Services you have connected with anyone in the (name of department) operation at JP Morgan’s Newark Campus? It’s a field that interests me, and I’m hoping to speak with someone who could give me some insights about what it’s like to work there, and how best to approach my search for an internship with the company.
My resume is attached so you’ll have a bit of background. Thanks so much for your help, and I’d be happy to have a further conversation if that would be helpful.

 

Now, my guess is that the student assumed none of this was necessary because of my role at the university. WRONG. I always take great care with the networking connections I make. I’m not going to refer anyone whom I feel would reflect poorly on the institution, or on me personally. After all, I am only effective in my role if my reputation is solid and I maintain the respect of colleagues both inside and outside the organization.

 

The same is true of all of us! So take care in your communication that you do not make assumptions, and look at every connection you make as one that could last you a lifetime. If you’d like more templates like the one above, and guidance on how to get the most out of your networking efforts, I’ve got your back! I’ve put together a “How to Use LinkedIn™ to Land the Job You Want” guide for this and so much more! Click here to grab your copy today!
 
Cheers to Your Career!