The more time that passes after you meet people for the first time—either in person or virtually—the harder it is to remember them. This is why, when you're job searching, it's important to take notes after meeting someone new. It's also important to follow up with people after you meet them. This helps you maintain and build relationships—which is essential when you're looking for a new job.
In order to maximize your networking efforts, here are four types of emails that will help you move from “potentially forgotten contact” to “recommended job applicant.”
1. Thank-you emails
Expressing appreciation is valued across cultures, yet so many job seekers fail to send thank-you notes after meeting someone. Many people simply forget to send a thank-you note. Others are unsure what they should write and assume they’re taking less risk by not following up at all. Make sure you don’t forget to send great thank-you notes by taking the following steps:
Set aside time on your calendar to write the notes
When you decide to attend a networking event or schedule an informational call, reserve 15 minutes within 48 hours after the event or call to write thank-you notes.
Create a tool to help you collect information during the networking event or informational call
To do this, you could use a Google sheet, which you could fill out on your phone in between conversations, or you could use pen and paper. Either way, make sure you collect the following info: event date, employer, name of employer representative, email of employer rep, and advice you heard from that rep.
Most of this information can be found on a person’s business card. However, many people no longer carry business cards even to networking events. And those who do carry business cards quickly run out. Also, these days, most networking events are virtual. So, make sure you’re prepared to collect the information you need to send a thank-you email.
Write the note
Start your note with a simple sentence expressing something like: “Thank you for taking time to chat with me.” In the next sentence, share a specific piece of advice or insight that the person passed along to you that you found helpful. If you have questions for the contacts you’re writing to, use the next sentence to ask if they’d be willing to discuss a few questions sometime in the next few weeks. If you don’t have any questions, ask if they would be comfortable with you reaching out if you do have additional questions.
Lastly, wish them well. If, during the conversation, they mentioned they’re looking forward to something, tell them you hope they have a great time doing that activity. Otherwise, finish the letter saying you hope they have a good week or weekend (depending on the day of the week).
Often, your contacts will respond to your email by saying something about how they were glad to meet you as well. However, if a contact doesn’t respond, it doesn’t mean your email wasn’t valued or you’re no longer someone to consider. If you asked to chat about a few additional questions and you get a response, be sure to follow up promptly with three different dates/times you’re available and mention that you can find other times if that would work better for your contact.
Following all of these steps will show the contacts in your network that you’re an interested, thoughtful person who values their time and insights. An individual demonstrating those qualities during in-person and email interactions is someone many people feel comfortable introducing to others. When someone introduces you to one of their contacts, your network and candidacy grows quickly.
2. Referral request emails
Referral requests are emails in which you ask if your contact would be willing to connect you with another person. To receive a positive response to a referral request you need to have shown you’re a trustworthy and likable person. You also need contacts who are willing to take the time and risk of opening their networks to someone they recently met. Often, you don’t know if those prerequisites have been achieved until you make the request. To make a referral request, take the following steps:
Set a calendar reminder to send a referral request one week after you send your thank-you note
It’s easy to forget to send the referral request, resulting in a missed opportunity to accelerate your job search success. Leverage technology to make the most of every opportunity. If you asked your contact to chat about a few additional questions and you meet, set the reminder for one week after you meet.
Write the email
In your email, make sure to thank the person again. People will be more willing to connect you when they see you’re a grateful person who respects others’ time and efforts. Begin your email with a brief sentence expressing thanks again for talking with you a week ago.
Then, remind your contact of your interests. You can assume that your contacts are busy, so you can further demonstrate your thoughtfulness by reminding them about the topics you’re seeking to learn more about. It’s best to describe your interests in a narrow and broad sense. For example, you could mention that you’d like to continue learning more about working in a specific function where they’re employed as well as working in the broader tech industry in San Francisco.
After that, ask advice for next steps. Now that you’ve had a few exchanges to build trust and likability, you’ll have a better chance at receiving quality advice. The next line of your email should be a request for advice as to the best next steps to land a job in a specific role where they work. Your contacts’ responses will inform the level of effort you continue to exert to land a job at their employers.
Finally, ask if there’s someone you should meet. Keep this question simple by writing, “Is there anyone else you think I should meet?” If a contact recommends someone, make that person a high priority. Reach out to that person within 24 hours to ask for time to chat (and make sure to “bcc” your contact).
3. Check-in emails
When people refer you, set monthly calendar notifications to check in with them. Their helpfulness is a good indicator they’d be willing to recommend you for a role. So it’s a good idea to stay in contact until you discover a role and are able to send them an application notification email (more on that below). In the first check-in email, thank your contacts for referring you to another person, recap advice your initial contact gave you, and share how you’ve applied it. Ask them if there’s anyone else they think you should meet and then wish them well.
In subsequent monthly emails, consider the time of year or company news and how you can use those events to wish your contacts well: “I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Thanks again for all your guidance!” or “I just read that your company received a large investment. Congrats! I hope that increases your ability to achieve your ambitions!” If you read an article and it makes you recall a conversation you had with someone, link the article in the email and note how you thought your contact might like it.
4. Application notification emails
Neglecting to notify your employer contacts before applying is like planting a garden and not harvesting the produce. Before you apply to a role, notify your contacts and share the following:
- You’re thankful for all their guidance.
- You’re excited to apply for a role at their employer.
- You’re planning on applying by ____.
Close the email by asking:
- If they’d be willing to recommend you for the role.
- If they have any suggestions before you apply.
You want to send an email before you apply because sometimes there’s a separate application process for individuals recommended by a current employee. Furthermore, many employers offer bonuses to employees if someone they recommend is hired for a role. So it’s best for all parties to connect before you apply. However, if you find yourself at risk of missing an application deadline, go ahead and apply, and then notify your contact afterwards.
This post was excerpted from the Vault Guide to the International MBA Job Search.
David Solloway is a career consultant, life coach, and cross-cultural training/development specialist. He works as the assistant director for Daytime MBA Career Services at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and is a co-author of the Vault Guide to the International MBA Job Search.
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