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In Networking, It’s About Sending the Right Message
By Aileen Baxter, Transition Assistance Coach, Evolving Workforce, Deloitte Services LP
As you may have heard, networking can be a critical component of your job search strategy. There are many different types of networking, as well as audiences to network with. The first thing that job seekers tend to do is reach out to their close family, friends and colleagues, their “core” group whom they feel most comfortable with. But what happens when that group is tapped out? Do your networking efforts stop there? No, in fact, they have just begun! Some of the more desirable opportunities or leads could be uncovered through people that you may not know at all. So, how can you reach out to this elusive group of professionals
Keep in mind all of your social media channels –you may have more virtual “friends” than you realize! Another option is a social media site geared toward professionals. Do your research and develop a list of people who you’d like to reach out to. They could be people with similar career paths to you, who hold roles that you are interested in, or perhaps work for one of your target companies. If they are 2nd degree connections (friends of friends), you can start by asking for an introduction. But what happens when you don’t know these people personally and they don’t know you? You may feel awkward reaching out to them and not know what to say. Many of my clients have told me they don’t like to network because they “hate bothering people” or “feel weird asking someone I don’t know for something.” My response is typically, “It’s all about your message.”
As a career coach in a recognizable company, I get a lot of messages from people I don’t know. There are generally three types of messages I receive and out of these three, I only respond to one. From the three sample messages below, can you guess which one might elicit the best response?
Message #1: “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
Message #2: “Hi Aileen. I see you are a Career Coach at Deloitte. My name is Sally Smith and I am looking for a new opportunity, targeting Deloitte. Can you let me know if there are any openings or submit my resume to a recruiter? Thank you.
Message #3: “Hi Aileen. My name is Sally Smith and I am an Organization Change Management consultant, contemplating a career change. I recently saw your article on the Deloitte US LinkedIn Group about identifying your career personality, and it really resonated with me. I think you would be a great person to offer some insight on my current transition. Would you have 15 minutes on your calendar during the week of March 20th to connect? Thanks so much and I look forward to networking with you! All the Best.
If you guessed the third message, you get a gold star! Message #3 demonstrates two things about the person. First, they took the time to research me as well as some of my group posts/articles (flattery can go a long way when networking!). Second, she did NOT ask me for a job. The only thing she asked for was 15 minutes of my time and some advice. To me, that leaves a much better impression and I genuinely want to help her. The first two messages turned me off because the person did not take the time to send a personalized note (Example #1) and the person was only reaching out to ask me for a job or referral (Example #2). Big difference!
The next time you decide to network with someone you don’t know, I highly suggest that you do your research and spend the time crafting a message that is more likely to elicit a response. While you may not hear back from every person, your response rate may improve. Good luck!