We just went over how to build your profile, tapping into your network, now it’s time to reach out.
As an innocent undergraduate ready to take on the big world, you are encouraged to really play up the inexperienced card. No really, that’s what you lead with. People, especially the alumni you are reaching out to, have been in your same exact position: just graduating, nervous about the future, dealing with the confusion of life, needing advice; its the perfect story and everyone can relate.
Your initial email is going to communicate just this.
The initial email
You’re going to click Connect to those people on your list. It gives you a relationship option to choose. Choose Classmate, then your school. Absolutely do not forget to include a personal customized note. This is going to be the introduction to show them you are not just another shmuck, but an interested undergraduate seeking help.
You only get a certain character limit so make it concise. Here’s a great example of what works:
I hope this message finds you well. My name is [Ricky Bobby]. I am a senior at UCLA, your alma mater. I am reaching out because I am very interested in your work and career path.
I imagine you were in a similar position as I am now: about to graduate and looking for jobs. I am wondering if I could speak to you about your work, how you got where you are, etc.
I’d love to chat on the phone if that is at all possible. We can communicate over this [LinkedIn messenger] or through my email email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Your note should be short, but to the point. Your goal with that email is to show them you need their help and to get them on the phone for a short informational interview. But why should they help you? You’re just a waste of time. No one ever helped them.
They will help you because people love to talk about themselves. I repeat, people love to talk about themselves. It’s something we can use to our advantage.
Here’s why: people love to share their stories, their experiences and their trials and tribulations. Everyone is their own story and they want to share it with the world at every moment.
People love to talk about themselves.
Don’t believe me? I bet 9/10 of the people you reach out to has a twitter.
If you can get them on the phone for 30 minutes, ask questions, and be a good listener, well, you’ve already made an great impression on them.
Just in those steps you have polished your brand, researched a target market, planned a strategy to engage, followed up, acted interested, and scheduled a meeting. That’s an enormous amount of work just to get them on the phone, imagine what you can do in an office setting, working for them…
The response rates will vary depending on the person, status, industry and company. Some people don’t check LinkedIn very often but messages appear in their personal inboxes. If it’s somebody you really want to get in touch with and you don’t get a response within a week, follow up again.
Sidenote: Be persistent. Someone once told me, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
Nobody is ever going to give you anything in life. This is the business world you’re entering. Time is money and people have better things to do. Speak up for yourself, no one else will. You must demand their time and attention.
That’s why I say make a list of 25-30 names. The higher the number, the higher the probability of getting phone calls.
In their reply, they will welcome the opportunity for a short conversation…well they should, you’re a rockstar. This is great! Fantastic job. You casted your line and you got a bite!
Reply with enthusiasm and excitement. Pose some times to chat with them on the phone. Usually around noon on their lunch break or at the end of the day on their way home.
Remember, correspondence between you two will take time. Don’t expect a reply within the hour or even within the day. If they haven’t gotten back to you after 2 full days, send a follow up.
Here’s an example:
I’m really looking forward to chatting with you. I just want to follow up and figure out a time this week that works best. I am available Wednesday and Thursday anytime after 12. Let me know what works.
Once you get a confirmed time and day, it’s time to really hunker down and prepare. It also doesn’t hurt to send a follow up email the day before, just to confirm. You mean business. Click here to learn how to prepare for the call.