Tag: networking

Email lives at the core of the professional world. Whether you are busy networking or trying to get your product off the ground, chances are you spend a significant amount of your time in your inbox.

I learned early on in my professional career that “being good at email” would actually turn out to pay dividends—and has it ever.

For the sake of making a strong case, cold emails have helped me:

  • Get published on Forbes, Fortune, and Business Insider, to name a few
  • Gain experience via internships and working at YCombinator-backed tech companies
  • Land phone calls with Fortune 500 executives
  • Sell products to tens of thousands of customers

Now it does not take a genius to figure out how to be good at email. But when someone like Sam Altman himself hands over a framework during a Product Hunt Live Chat, I thought it would be worth taking the time to look at it.

Here it is:

1. Keep it short

Writing more with less is deceivingly simple. Most people rush writing emails, and tend to use more words than necessary. Speaking with purpose and with a cognizance of the other person’s time is not easy.

Say as much as possible in the least amount of words. People care about their time, so respect that.

Just keep this in mind when writing the email: Make it as easy as possible for the other person to give you their answer.

2. Be clear about what you want

Are you interested in a job? Say so. Do you want to be quoted as a source in an article? Say it—and provide your expertise on the matter in a pithy, engaging way. Do you want a customer to use your product? Say it—and tell them why they should.

Just get to the point!

Most people ignore this advice. They write sentences and sentences without saying anything of substance.

Do not hide your ask in a block of text. Bold it. Highlight it.

No one can help you if they do not know what you want from them.

3. Be clear about why the recipient should care

This one is hard. This is where most people get stumped.

The reality is this part requires you to put your brain aside and start using your heart. Try to empathize with the recipient of your email.

Example 1:

You’re cold-emailing the editor of a major publication. Ask yourself: What is this person looking for?

The answer: The editor wants a unique take on a topic relevant to their audience. They do not want to have to do a lot of work to the contributed piece, so it should not have typos. They also do not want to have to wait a long period of time for answers to any questions they may have.

How is that picture?

Example 2:

You’re cold-emailing a recruiter asking for an internship. Ask yourself: What is this person looking for?

The answer: Recruiters are looking for exceptional, unique talent. Communicate that quickly. Follow up quickly. Make it easy for them to say yes. Do not create more work for them when they have so many other things to be doing.

I think you get the point. As you can tell, this is far from rocket science. The crazy thing is, few people do this. Few people take emailing seriously. Few people follow this framework.

If you do follow it, and are consistent,  good things will come. People will respond to your emails. Why? Because people are generally nice. They want to be nice people. They just do not want to have to do more work because of you.

The key to this is empathy. Understand your recipient and you’ll know just how to send them an email.

LinkedIn is a window to potential employers, and it is often the first place recruiters will look when seeking talent. Making connections on LinkedIn is also a great way to build your professional network and form relationships with potential mentors. Career Consultant Anne Petersen provides these tips for making professional connections on LinkedIn:

1. Introduce yourself and draw a connection—or two

Point out what you have in common, such as an alma mater, extra-curriculars, or similar internship experiences.

If you are contacting an alumnus, start by saying “I see you earned your degree from Olin” or “I am a student at Olin Business School.” Then say “I came across your profile on the University Page. Like you, I am pursuing a career in  ___.” Close by saying “Let’s stay connected on LinkedIn.”

In your subsequent conversation, get to know your connection (and share your own background/ interests) so that you develop a professional and personal connection.

2. Seek counsel, not a job referral, when making connections on LinkedIn

It’s important to get advice on things like how they found their job, what’s their function/ industry really like, and how they describe their company’s culture.

Once your invitation to connect is accepted, you are a first-degree connection and can send a message. Start building a relationship by sending a message with these points:

Subject: Thanks for accepting my invitation to connect.

In the body of the message, write something like: “I see you currently work at ABC technology in ___. As I pursue a career in ____, I would like to learn more about your work and the company culture.” Or, alternatively, if you are working on a school project that is relevant to your new connection, say “I am working on a research project on ____ and would value your input.” Close by asking for a call or short meeting: “Do you have 15 minutes for a call next week? If so, any afternoon is good for me. Let me know when is best for you.”

Remember: LinkedIn is a community that is for building relationships. If you ask for a job, you will certainly turn off potentially valuable members of your network.

3. Keep your communication concise

Your contact probably gets hundreds of digital communications daily. Be sure to stay on point.

4. Write your introduction in a conversational way

It shouldn’t sound like a formal cover letter or a casual note to a friend. If in doubt, share with another student or advisor in advance, to make sure it sets the right tone.

5. Commit to taking no more than 15-20 minutes of their time

Acknowledge that they are busy and that you won’t take more than 15-20 minutes of their time. Let them know when you hit the 15 minute mark in your conversation, and they will typically offer to talk a bit longer.

6. Show courtesy

Send a thank you expressing gratitude for the time your contact invested in sharing their experiences and providing advice.

7. Continue to stay in contact after connecting on LinkedIn

Stay in contact with your new connection by sending pertinent articles, providing a progress update, or looping back regarding conversations with their networking leads.

Anne Petersen is a career consultant at the Weston Career Center, specializing in marketing, innovation, and leadership training and assessment. Anne has industry experience in consumer package goods and advertising.

Think of your online profiles, posts, and tweets as a dynamic résumé—an online presentation of your personal brand. They reveal your interests, personality, and expertise. A space like Facebook or Twitter may seem more personal, while LinkedIn is clearly a venue for professional networking and job searching.

However, there are still useful ways to leverage these ‘more personal’ channels to grow your professional network.

“Like” or follow companies

Search for pages of your target companies, and “Like” them. Interact on the page’s wall to highlight your interest in the products and services. Similarly, be sure to follow official company accounts on Twitter—it is a good way to stay up to date on industry and company trends.

Share relevant links, info, and stories

Post links to your profile that will position you as an expert in a field and may attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Remember to stay away from controversial topics and inappropriate content or photographs.

“Like” articles on the web

Don’t be afraid to hit the “Like” on blogs, online news articles, websites, etc. When you “Like” interesting stuff, others may want to connect back with you as a resource, and it begins another connection.

Many people use Twitter to keep up on the latest buzz, including job opportunities. It’s also an efficient networking tool, and 140-character tweets force you to keep your message or question concise. When you make new contacts in your field of interest, ask whether they have a Twitter handle to follow. At conferences and social events, include your Twitter handle on your name badge.

Use Twitter as you would a business card—a point of entry for follow-up conversation.

As you build your network of colleagues and professionals, reach out to ask questions. And reciprocate by quickly answering questions directed to you.

How to tend to your network—using social media

Networking online doesn’t need to be time consuming. You can develop your professional reputation and help others in the process through simple etiquette practices that require only a few minutes each day:

  1. Be the first to have a point of view. Share relevant news articles, and add value by including any observations.
  2. Let them know they’ve been heard. Listen to what your network has to say, and make an informed suggestion or relevant introduction.
  3. Establish yourself as the go-to-person. Consider connecting your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to establish more visibility.
  4. Try to add at least one new person to your network a week. Growing networks are far more effective than stagnant ones.

Protect your reputation online

Even with the strictest privacy settings, no social space is truly private, so heed our suggestions to protect your online reputation. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to be yourself; you’ll make your best impression if there’s a real human behind your online identity.

Don’t let social networking jeopardize your career opportunities. Protect your image by following these simple tips:

Keep it professional
Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see. Derogatory comments, revealing or risqué photos, foul language, and lewd jokes all will be viewed as a reflection of your character. Carefully select your privacy settings. And since you can’t control what others post, you may want to block or hide comments from friends who don’t practice the same level of discretion.

Be prepared
Check your profile regularly to see what comments have been posted. Remember that other people can tag you, so check regularly, and if a post is not appropriate, untag yourself. Use a search engine to look for online records of yourself to see what is out there about you. If you find information you feel could be detrimental to your candidacy or career, remove it—and make sure you have an answer ready to counter or explain “digital dirt.”

Respect the wall
If you wouldn’t want to read it on a billboard, don’t post it to your Facebook wall—or anyone else’s. This holds true even if you use Facebook only to socialize. Remember, anyone you “friend” can see your comments, photos, and YouTube video links. Email or use Facebook’s messaging feature instead.

Every day we meet people. Some meetings are fleeting and are for simple, daily activities and tasks. We meet people at the grocery store, at the local coffee shop, at the gym. Other meetings create real connections. You will also meet people during volunteer activities, at charitable events, or through professional organizations. If your parents were like mine, you may have been taught to treat everyone with respect and to be kind. In other words, practicing The Golden Rule .

When you are in the job market you need to take the Golden Rule one step further. You need to treat every meeting as an interview. One definition of an interview is a “formal meeting in which one or more persons question, consult, or evaluate another person.” The concept of questioning, consulting, and evaluating happens all the time, whether the title of the meeting on your calendar is “interview” or you are sharing a cup of coffee at a volunteer event. I am a huge believer of networking to help you in your career search and transitions. Networking is a great way to learn and develop a viable plan for the transition. Keep in mind, however, there is a gray line between a “networking meeting” and an “interview.”

Consider the following scenario: A friend is currently looking to shift his career direction and has started looking to join a company with a strong sustainability missionUntitled. Your friend has decided to volunteer with a local non-profit organization that is helping companies develop various sustainability programs and decided to attend a monthly meeting of the non-profit group. While in line for a cup of coffee, the woman behind your friend makes small talk. She asks your friend why he is attending the meeting. He says he has an interest in sustainability and then goes to find a seat.

Hopefully, as you read this you cringed. You know the error of your friend’s ways. What should he have done differently if he was thinking of this interaction as an interview? Follow these simple steps to turn small talk into a real connection.

Introduce yourself at the start of your answer and provide a simple but direct statement of your current situation, your focus areas, and what you believe.

“Hi, I’m Tom Golden. I’ve been passionate about the area of sustainability and believe this organization has the most comprehensive methodology to help companies design viable solutions. I’m also in the process of transitioning from my current VP of Finance role into something that will allow me to use my skills in the sustainability area. What is your name and what brings you to this event?”

Ask questions of the other person to show interest and to allow both of you to assess commonalities and connections.

“You are the COO for Sustainability Best Practice Consulting Inc.? I recently read about the type of work you did for Big Oil Co. and the impact your group had.”

Showcase your background to establish your credibility.

“In my role as the VP of Finance I have been able to help my company establish a viable sustainability program while establishing a strong ROI.”

Ask for time to meet and discuss further your common interests.

“Would you be open to meeting and discussing how you moved into your role and how you view the sustainability issues facing businesses today?”

In addition to being able to converse about your background, your passions, and your desires, don’t forget the non-verbal questioning and evaluating that happens in every meeting. Be very conscious of your body language, eye contact, and use of purposeful pauses. It goes without saying that you are dressed professionally. If, in the above scenario, your friend were wearing shorts and a ball cap, the COO would make a note. While it is easy to say “it shouldn’t be about how I am dressed,” why even make it something that has to be considered?

During a job search or career transition, most of the attention is focused on crafting the best resume, responding to job postings, and setting up formal interviews. Studies have been done that say most jobs are found via networking. Networking, whether formally initiated or spontaneous, looks a lot like an interview and should be treated as such. Just remember: If it feels like an interview, and even if it doesn’t, it probably is in some way, shape or form.

This post originally appeared on LMHAdvisors. In addition to LMHAdvisors, Lisa Hebert serves as a Career Consultant specializing in supply chain, consulting, and Olin’s veteran student population.

Recently the MBA class of 2017 through one of the school’s clubs held a networking event that reached out to the professional MBA (PMBA) class, too. I have been an advocate for more joint events between the programs for a while now. (more…)