Dear Sir or Madam, You Suck at Networking: No One Cares

What if you lived in a magical world where every networking email you sent had a perfect subject line, excellent content and your recipient opened it with such fervor that your ask got a reply before you even sent the email! Well pals, this magical land doesn’t exist.

In part four of this series on how you’re all terrible at networking, we’re going to endlessly wring our hands together while we wait and wait and wait and wait for that sweet, sweet email reply, and then discuss the very real possibility that you won’t get a response back and how you can best address it. Spoiler alert, you have two options.

Your first option is obvious, and it is simply to not send a follow-up email and assume they don’t like you and never speak of this moment again. That’s not really an ideal plan if we’re honest, but it does produce a result – Failure.

The second option is then of course…? yes, good. Send a follow-up email. But DC! A follow-up networking email! Are you INSANE MAN!!?!?! Yes, I am… look, the thing is we need to look at what your goal here is. Your goal is to reach out to someone, and establish contact so that you can build a relationship, right? Well if that hasn’t happened then you need to re-evaluate, and consider how you might reach out – and how you might do it better this time.

First step. Identify where the problem lies. Is it you, or is it me?

Consider whether your initial message/email was effective. Did you clearly convey your message within it? Is it appropriate to re-hash that message (in a more succinct format), or should you attempt to pose a revamped and clarified message? Did it get buried in their inbox because you sent it on a Friday evening? Are they OOO and your subject line isn’t mobile friendly?

Second step. Draft the new message. Don’t buy a new fast car, make your Volvo fast.

I would probably advise you to keep the same subject line, or at the extreme least, keep your subject line close enough that it will still be filterable via keyword search. But a revamped message is completely fair game. If it’s a cold contact, you want to maintain some key components like keeping it friendly and being respectful of their time and your ask. Something to the effect of:

 

“Mr. Batman:

I’ve been completely slammed over here and haven’t had a chance to follow-up, but just wanted to circle back with you regarding the latest plans for containing the Riddler.

If you have any questions, or I can be of any immediate assistance, definitely let me know!

Look forward to hearing from you,
~DC”

 

Third step. Send the email. Don’t die in the woods.*

*There’s an old adage that says the reason most people who die in the woods usually die out of shame. “How could this’ve happened?” “How did I get here?” etc. Instead of doing the one thing that would’ve saved their life… thinking.

It’s really easy to sit there after you put a LOT of work into a solid networking attempt, and get nothing but crickets on your end, to think that you did something wrong, or you failed, or you asked too much, or you aren’t good enough and blah blah blah. But what probably really happened is that the person you’re trying to reach out to is just busy, or worst case… maybe they don’t know how to answer your question. Knowing that, you can see the value in both the no response, and send a follow up email as well as being a good networker and trying to get back with people in a timely manner.

 

One final point I’d like to make is regarding the follow-up email you should be sending after you’ve established contact with your networking partner. This is critical. Key. A MUST DO.

A relationship is built on shared experiences. When you’re building a networking relationship with someone, your shared experience pool is quite limited, so it’s extremely important that you get your money’s worth out of the networking exchange. Be sure to take the opportunity to reference the shared experience, and follow up with something more of a “give” than a “take”. It can certainly be as simple as a thank you, or an offer of your services should they become relevant.

When all is said and done, networking via email is hard. You will fail at it, and it will be painful. Hopefully by using some of the tips I’ve put together in this blog series, we can level the learning curve a bit.

And with this, we conclude the series on your terrible terrible networking emails. I would LOVE for you all to twitter me for suggestions about my next blog topic, which you can do by going on to “the internet”. I’m told it is “lit”.

 

Tweet DC @HeySeeDC He doesn’t use twitter, but instead has an account that is roughly analogous to his real life digital persona.

 

DC is however a real live person that works in the Garage at NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. He is a contributor for their blog which they apparently thought was a good idea. In his spare time he calculates the wheel diameters on light aircraft, and plays air ping pong at a tournament level. He also wrote this entire bio himself, in the third person.

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