Networking Emails: What You’re Doing Wrong

You have your eye on your dream job, and you’re not alone. Per Glassdoor’s latest stats, on average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of these candidates, only four to six will be called for an interview and only one will be offered the job.

Connecting with an employee for insider advice or a referral is a must. You’ll drastically increase your chances of making it to an interview and landing the job. In fact, 85% of jobs are found through people, not online job boards. 

Asking the right people in your network for career advice, introductions, and referrals is the fastest path to a job you love. Perhaps, the only way. For most of us, that means reaching out to someone we don’t know, and requesting a conversation.

You find a few recent alumni in your LinkedIn network you’d like to talk to. Or maybe it’s a friend of a friend. Or a coworker’s old manager. Now all you have to do is ask, right?

Staring blankly at your laptop screen, palms sweaty, you search for an answer, “How do I write a conversation request email that has the best chance of getting a response, especially if they don’t know me yet?”

It’s about showing a little bit of “you.”

Why your networking emails aren’t working

Stephanie wants to talk to Gina who works in a job she has her eye on. Stephanie sits down at her laptop and writes a quick conversation request email, hits send and waits.

Gina scans her inbox first thing in the morning, and begins the mundane process of separating the junk from the to-do’s. Click, click, click. Suddenly, Stephanie’s networking email appears.

Stephanie’s email can be a bright spot in Gina’s day. It can be a rare, intriguing surprise, like a handwritten envelope that mysteriously shows up in our mailbox. “Someone I don’t know wrote to me?  Who could Stephanie be?” Gina wonders for the instant before clicking the message open.

Likely, Gina will be disappointed because most networking emails do not contain a trace of the people that wrote them. Most networking emails read like sterile, robotic, form letters, like most emails in Gina’s inbox.

If your email sounds more like a robot than a person, you’ve made it easy to discard.

People want to help other people (they were in your shoes once, too), but they have to know you’re worth investing in. That means being honest and open from the start—being “you,” and allowing others to learn about you. It’s the genuine connection created that leads to one person helping another.

If you want someone to say YES to your request, then put a little of YOU in your message.

Beware of networking email templates

Attempts to make networking easier have actually made it harder to connect with someone. For example, networking email templates are more harmful than they are helpful. Using email templates often minimizes you to little more than a name tag.

“Hi, my name is Theo Barrett, a marketing analyst from Acme Inc.” may be fine for a LinkedIn headline but it isn’t enough to make a warm connection with someone you want to create a professional relationship with.”

People want to know who you are.

In your next networking email, introduce the real you

A secret to getting a YES is to add one interesting sentence about you. Share something about yourself that shows others that you’re a real person. What makes you interesting? What makes you, you? Tell them.

“My name is Tawanna Liu and I am a graduate of Ridgeview University, 2013, and am currently a design engineer at a med-tech company. Besides work, I write music and perform in a local band.” 

Most of us can’t help but wonder, “Who is this design-engineer-band-playing-music-writer?”

One sentence is the difference between being flat or being real. From being a robot to being a human. Which makes you want to want to hit the “reply” button?

How to write your “about me” in your next networking email

Everyone has an interest or an experience that makes them so much more than their LinkedIn headline. Maybe it’s writing a blog about whales, jewelry making, mountain biking, or herding 20 kindergartners through play practice.

For many of us, it is as simple as being a soccer enthusiast, an animal lover, or growing up on a farm. Whatever it is, it’s something that makes “you” show up in the email—something that adds intrigue and separates you from the flat image of a job description.

Happy young woman in glasses connecting with her LinkedIn network on desktop

How do you write your own “About Me” sentence? It’s easier than you think.

Be Surprising. Share something juxtaposed to the image often associated with your title or major, like Tawanna’s example. How do you differ from the image of a financial analyst, marketing associate, or sales rep?

Go Deep. We admire people who are so passionate about a field that they pursue it in their spare time. Do you work in a startup and spend your free time incubating your own ideas? Or, are you a freelance writer by day and a poet by night? That’s intriguing too. Mention your latest project.

Stick with Interests. Make this sentence about your interests, not your accomplishments. Remember, you are introducing yourself, not selling yourself. Check to see if you and your contact potentially have any shared interests, too.

Struggling to put your finger on what’s interesting about you? Ask yourself, “how would my best friend describe me to someone new?” Whatever it is, add it to your introduction to make a memorable impression.

Reach out to start networking

Make your conversation request a welcome break from the typical inbox emails. One sentence about you can make the difference between hoping and knowing you’ve made an impression worth saying yes to.

Your “about me” is only one ingredient to a perfect outreach email. Try MANGO’s free Conversation Request Email Builder for step-by-step coaching on writing a flawless outreach email. Email Builders guide you through writing emails, making sure you include all the essential ingredients while avoiding the use of generic email templates.

Start writing your email today to get one step closer to your dream job.

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Sue Wollan Fan is the Founder & CEO of MANGO, a free networking tool whose mission is to expand opportunities for all by making networking easier, accessible, and more human. She has mentored hundreds to succeed professionally while serving as a corporate executive, nonprofit leader, tech entrepreneur, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping others do work that matters.