This tried-and-true email technique will put you a step ahead in your networking.
Imagine if this email popped up in your inbox:
“Recent College Grad Who Needs Your Advice”
How would you feel? Honored? Important? Let's go with both.
Most of us relish the chance to help from a position of authority, even if we're swamped with stuff to do. That's why the smartest networking email subject lines contain phrases like “Needs Your Advice.” Yes, you typically network to find a job, but you can't barge into someone's inbox and ask straight up for employment. It's too direct and intrusive. Ah, but the advice route. It can work wonders because:
Everyone likes to be the expert and feel valuable.
You look smart because you're asking for insight and not a job.
Sending “advice” emails is the perfect way to get key people to notice you. An inbox is a crowded place, sure, but how many emails do “important” business types — or any of us, really — receive in a week that only ask for wisdom?
Here's a scenario: You want a job on Capitol Hill, and a friend of a friend is chief of staff for a U.S. senator. Pretty big job, right? You send the networking contact this email:
Subject line: [Your Friend's Name]'s Friend Who Needs Capitol Hill Advice
Hi [Friend of a Friend's Name],
My name is [Your Name], and I'm a good friend of [Your Friend's Name]. I would love to find a job on Capitol Hill but am new to Washington, DC and would appreciate your advice.
How did you get started on the Hill?
What are the smartest ways to apply for jobs? I want to make sure I handle the process the right way.
Thanks so much for your help!
– [Your Name]
This is effective for three reasons:
Since you sought advice and not just a job, the person is much more willing to answer.
You will likely gain insight into the hiring process, which would not happen if you flatly asked “Is there a job opening?”
You began a conversation and — who knows? — maybe your inquisitiveness will lead to a job.
Bottom line: If you want people's undivided attention, let them be the expert. They will go on all day.
Related: Emails That Could Change Your Career
Below are more subject lines you might want to use or adapt.
Friend of [Mutual Acquaintance] Who Needs Your Advice
Fellow [Your Industry] Professional Seeking Your Advice
To a college alum:
Fellow [Your College] Grad Looking for Advice
Someone notable you admire:
Big Fan of Your Work Looking for Advice
New Employee Who Needs Your Advice
Before you send another email requesting an informational interview, give this networking email strategy a try. It may be the key to getting your foot in the door.
Note: This article originally appeared in Rubin Education, formally known as News to Live By.