So, by now, you have – either in writing or simply through mental image – your list of people who you know and/or who you would like to get to know (see my post from 11/2/11 if you are questioning this). Once you start meeting with the people you know, asking them to connect you to the people that you would like to get to know AND (this is a new one) asking them for names of other people who they suggest you get to know, it’s a matter of getting your meetings scheduled.
Many people have asked my input on HOW to go about getting a meeting with a networking prospect. My answer is simple. Ask for it.
For me, asking for the meeting has always been easiest and most effective by email. I recommend that you create an email template for yourself that provides a brief introduction, explains what you are looking for and suggests a date and time to meet. Here is the template that I used when I first started networking in 2007. Most of the specific content is no longer relevant for me, but, interestingly, I think that every request that I have made since has been some variation on this format:
Jane Doe referred me to you; my name is Alana Muller. I would love an opportunity to visit with you, in a networking capacity, over coffee, breakfast or lunch to learn more about what you are doing professionally and your career path.
By way of background, I have been an executive at Sprint for the past 10 years and made the career decision to leave the company this past June. While there, I was granted a number of terrific general management experiences, serving in a variety of capacities, most notably in the wireless data marketing area with responsibility for the managing the music portfolio and merchandising the company’s wireless data services overall. Prior to that, I spent time as a director in the talent management group with responsibility for executive and leadership development, performance management and succession planning for the organization’s 60,000 employees.
Now, I am seeking opportunities at mid-market companies here in the Kansas City area that are looking for leadership to help them to achieve growth.
Please let me know your willingness and availability to meet over the next few weeks. I will also follow up with a phone call. Your consideration is appreciated.
Of course, your email will be different than mine. Tell your story, not mine. Introduce yourself – it’s always better if you can lead with “Introduction from Jane Doe” in the subject line. Incidentally, if you decide to call rather than write, whether to reach the person live or need to leave a message, start with something like, “Hello, Alexander. My name is Alana Muller. I received your contact information from Jane Doe….” Yes, just like the email template. It will help you to establish credibility and provide a frame of reference for your target.
Oh, and, please, do NOT send your resume with your meeting request. You must, simply must, resist the urge! I know that this is not relevant to all of you networkers out there, but for those of you to whom it is relevant, if you feel compelled to (eventually) send a resume, do so the day prior to your meeting with a confirmation email. Something like:
Good afternoon, Alexander.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow for lunch at The Diner around 11:45am. To the degree that it is helpful to you, attached is my resume to provide you with a bit more information on my background and experience. See you tomorrow!
Another option is to simply send your resume with a thank you message or only if asked!
Remember, don’t forget to ask for the names, contact information and, if they are willing, for warm introductions (i.e., they make a specific introduction of you either by email (preferable) or commit to doing so by phone), of other people who you ought to meet.
Finally, following the meeting, please, please, please, send a THANK YOU note! My preference is the good old fashioned kind… a hand written note on really nice stationary for an extra special touch. I tell you what, it will get you noticed and remembered! Nice stationary can be expensive… if that is not an option, a plain piece of paper works well, too! And, if handwritten is out of the question, email is fine.
Hopefully that was enough to wet your whistle for today. I suggest that, right now, you create an email template for yourself… go on… do it right now! Think about what you are hoping to get from networking meetings, identify one or two or three people who you would like to send that email to and get to it! Tomorrow, we can enjoy a chai tea latte together as I share with you my thoughts on the best places to meet.