Yesterday I blogged about whom to contact when attempting to network from a distance, today is the ‘how-to’ of initiating the conversation. The scenario is as follows: you are attempting to build a network of contacts in a city 800 miles away (think Denver to Dallas). How does one initiate a relationship?
Referrals: You go to a party and see a friend who is talking with another person. He introduces you to her and you find yourself hitting it off with the friend of your friend. Most of us have experienced this scenario or something similar to this – in networking, we call this a referral. Referrals are the best way to begin a networking relationship – a common friend brokers an introduction between two individuals. The reason the “Referral” is powerful is because a trusted source has vouched for each party; the two networking individuals enter the conversation with a level of trust and/or willingness to assist.
What happens if you don’t have a mutual friend in common?
The Cold Call: It is not as intimidating as it sounds. Actually, it can be quite easy once you get comfortable with the outreach and find the approach that works best for you. I will send a brief email to my targeted contact where I a) introduce myself and share a common connection b) ask for a 10-15 phone call and propose two discussion topics c) offer my thanks and willingness to reciprocate. I then attempt to set up a time for a phone appointment.
Below is a sample email to a fictitious alumna who works for a sports marketing firm in Dallas.Mr. Jones: My name is Kevin Monahan and I am a fellow ND alum who is planning a transition from Denver to Dallas by Summer 2012. Over the past three years I have been working for a sports marketing agency as an activation manager. Would you be open for a 15 minute phone call, I would like to learn more about the sports industry in Dallas and your career path, particularly your time at The Marketing Arm in Dallas. Thank you for considering my request and if I can be of assistance to you, I would be happy to reciprocate. Sincerely, Kevin Monahan email@example.com (123) 456-7890
–OR–Steve: My name is Kevin Monahan and I am the young alumni coordinator for the ND Denver Club. I saw you hold the same position within the Dallas Club and would like to reach out to you as I am in the process of relocating to Dallas. Would you be open to a 15 minute phone call, I would like to here your insights as to the Dallas marketplace and who may be some key members from the local ND club to reach out to. In addition, I would like to learn more about the club and how I may get involved. Thank you for considering my request and I look forward to moving to Dallas and becoming part of the ND family in Big ‘D’. Go Irish! Kevin Monahan firstname.lastname@example.org 123-456-7890
Keep the text short and to the point. Not everyone will be willing to assist, but if you can get one out of three individuals to take your phone call, you will be doing well in the networking sphere. Make the ask and you may be surprised by the results.
Next: Networking from a Distance: Nurturing the Relationship