Start Cold Networking
One time, I was on a cross-country trip and my battery light started glowing. Then I broke down. It was a Sunday and my roadside assistance was zero help. For a moment I thought I was stuck, that I’d exhausted my options—you know, the same way you might feel when you’re dying to interview at a company but don’t have the “in” you need to get there.
But I couldn’t give up and live on the side of that road in Nebraska forever, so I enlisted the help of some Good Samaritan motorists. Sometimes, shaking new hands is essential to getting where you want to go, whether it’s across a state line or in front of the people you need to impress at a new company.
You might cringe at the thought of cold networking, but don’t worry—it’s not about being salesy or becoming an infomercial in human form, I promise. It’s about networking like a pro, someone who builds authentic relationships rooted in shared value, and since you’ve been wink marketing yourself, you’re not actually reaching out cold anyway!
Reach out to the people on your networking map you weren’t able to secure introductions to. 91% of professionals check their email daily—by far the highest out of any channel—so you’ll want to contact them there (use Hunter.io to locate their email addresses). If you’re unable to email someone, stick to LinkedIn messenger or whatever platform they’re active on.
Ask these contacts for informational interviews; that’s 15 minutes of their time where you can learn more about their experiences in the industry. Do not—I repeat, do not—ask for a job in your outreach message. Similar to when you’re requesting introductions, job talk narrows your options and will likely get you referred back to that online portal you’re trying to circumvent.
Your email might sound something like this:
I’m Terri, communications researcher and travel enthusiast. I’ve been following your work at Priceline for a few months and would like to learn more about your path in business intelligence.
My next step is a role in marketing, and hearing about your experiences as an analytics specialist would help orient my thinking in a powerful way.
Would you consider letting me buy you a coffee near your office next week?
Thank you for your time,
Keep your message short and sweet. Your “ask” is direct and simple, but more importantly, it’s paired with a personal tone that shows you’re familiar with your contact’s career and not just firing off the same canned message to a dozen people. A custom message increases your chances and helps wash away the ick factor you might feel when reaching out to strangers for the first time. And if you don’t get a response after this first ping: Follow up a week later. You’d be surprised how few people do.
In tomorrow’s lesson, I’ll share some practical tips and advice for preparing for your informational interviews—because nailing a coffee date is all about asking the right questions!
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