Networking Etiquette and Actions

How to Get Started
List of alumni who attended Networking Nights 2008-present
Finding Networking Contacts/Resources
Typical/Sample Networking Questions
Sample Networking Notes and Letters of Introduction

Before…

  • Today, the most common first connections with a networking contact are via e-mail, although circumstances might require use of traditional mail or fax. With faculty, family or former employers you have strong relationships with, a phone call is fine.
  • Draft “networking note” or “letter of introduction,” have it critiqued by a Career Center professional, and be prepared to follow up appropriately by phone or, again, by email.
  • Attach a resume to share your background.  When networking for exploration or for graduate school efforts, the resume can be multi-purpose, but when networking for job search or internship search it must be “targeted,” clearly projecting your focus and qualifications for your field(s) of interest.
  • Your “note,” a brief paragraph appearing in the text block of the email, or “letter,” lengthier and inserted in the text block or as an attachment will vary dependent upon what type of networking you are doing. Samples created to inspire your drafting communiqués to be critiqued and finalized appear a bit later.  Do not copy them verbatim!
  • No matter the purpose or actual content of your first communication email note or letter, close with a request for fifteen minutes to a half-hour of the person’s time or, if they prefer, the opportunity to transmit a few questions and solicit their responses by email.
  • One of the final sentences should reveal how and when you will contact this person again. THEN MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW-UP! Usually this involves a phone call to set up a phone appointment or an in-person meeting. Never expect the person to phone you.
  • Proofread all of your correspondence!

During…

  • Be polite! Aside from the expected common courtesy, your hope is that continued communication can transform a basic “contact” into a role-model, mentor, or advocate. Dress professionally as a sign of respect.  Consider each person one of an ever-expanding network of contacts. Good impressions and positive interactions will become foundations upon which additional outcome focused networking can take place.
  • Ask thoughtful, appropriate questions. You should expect to have about 5-10 questions ready to ask for a half hour conversation. Or, you should have 3-5 concise email questions ready to share.
  • In phone or in person discussions, really listen to what the person tells you. Although you are actually in charge of the interview, you should be prepared to talk half of the time and listen the other half. If the person wishes to talk more, you will know that immediately. Just be prepared with things to talk about and have solid questions.
  • Be prepared for the person to ask you about your interests and experiences — they surely will, but recognize the difference between an “information conversation,” a “screening interview,” and networking.  Your ability to address these questions will impact how you can transition from information gathering to consideration and referrals, so be prepared.
  • While it is important to maintain eye contact during in-person meetings, taking notes demonstrates interest in what the person is saying. Make sure you write the person’s name, his/her email, and the date on your notes so that you can refer back to them, and appropriately follow-up.
  • Keep phone and in person conversations relatively short. Respect that the other person has many demands on his/her time. Follow up communications can and will yield additional information. When you reach the predetermined time limit (as per your communication), express appreciation and politely end the conversation.
  • At the end of phone or in person conversations, and via email correspondence, always clarify next steps you should take and those that will be taken by your networking contact person.
  • Don’t forget to say “Thank You”!

After…

  • Send a thank you note immediately. Emails are most expedient and acceptable by today’s etiquette standards, although follow up hand written notes can add a more personal touch.  Personalize your thank you by referencing something from your conversation that was particularly helpful. If the person referred you to another friend or colleague, state your plan of action for contacting that person, and do Cc him/her on all communiqués.
  • Reflect on the conversation. Go back over your notes to make sure the information is clear. Ask yourself: What did I learn from this interview (both positive and negative impressions)? How does what I learned fit with my own interests, abilities, goals, values, etc.? What more would be helpful to know? What are critical next steps?  Do share your experience with a Career Center professional (in person or via email) and seek their advice regarding next steps.
  • Quickly and appropriately contact people referred to you by the person you spoke with. Make sure to immediately mention the mutual contact as well as any particular reason why the person you originally spoke with thought this new person might be helpful. Follow all of the above rules regarding timing, etiquette, and thank you notes.
  • Keep your contacts informed of all subsequent actions and, when appropriate, make additional requests for advice and support. Always share successes and express your gratitude anew.