What do you see?
Two people look at the same exercise above: One sees “Opportunity Is Nowhere” and one sees “Opportunity Is Now Here”. — Ernie Zelinski
So which one are you? Do you sit back and wait for an opportunity to find you or are you the type of person that makes opportunities for yourself? If you are currently a job seeker, it would be wise to join the latter group to increase your chances of landing your next job a lot sooner.
Believe it or not, the majority of job seekers find employment through networking by landing jobs that are not even advertised. As little as 25% of job seekers found a job using the reactive method of applying to posted advertisements while the remaining 75% were able to secure a position by proactively networking with industry contacts. Social networking has allowed us to connect with others on an entirely new level but there is still something to be said about networking the old fashioned way with a networking letter.
A networking letter is not the same as a cover letter and should not be used in place of a cover letter. The purpose of a networking letter is to introduce yourself, seek advice, request a meeting, or seek an introduction to another professional in the field. You shouldn’t inquire about a job or if they know of any openings. That is not what a networking letter is for so do not send a resume along with your networking letter. The only time this would be appropriate is if someone requested that you send them your resume to pass along – but if we’re strictly talking about networking letters you should refrain.
Here are few examples of networking letter openers for different situations:
Alumni Networking Letter
It has been sometime since our days at ABC College but I remember our study group sessions fondly. I was hoping that I could once again ask for your expert guidance and professional opinion as I pursue my industry options.
New Graduate Networking Letter
Dear Mr. Johnson,
As a recent graduate with a degree in XYZ I have always admired your presence and contributions within the industry. I am eager to hit the ground running and was hoping that you would be willing to share some of your expert insight as I begin my career.
Professional Association Networking Letter
Dear Ms. Johnson,
As a casualty of the recent economic downturn I am actively pursuing employment within our industry. Your contributions to the ABC Association have always provided me with valuable information that has allowed me to stay up to date on the latest trends within our industry. Because of your contacts in the field I was wondering if you would be able to put me in touch with anyone who may be willing to meet with me to discuss my career aspirations.
Referral Networking Letter
Dear Mr. Johnson,
Although we have never met, we have a mutual contact in Jane Doe and it is at her suggestion that I am contacting you. Jane thought you would be the ideal person to offer advice on the industry as I am contemplating a career change. Any advice you could share would be appreciated.
Colleague Networking Letter
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since we shared that corner office at ABC Company when we were both just starting out. I’m going to be in your area next week and wanted to see if I could tempt you with lunch so we could catch up and compare career notes.
Regardless of the type of networking letter you use, your goal is to create an opportunity whether it is an opportunity to meet, learn something new, or secure an introduction. Close your letter with a definite action you will take, don’t expect that they will contact you, after all a networking letter is almost always unexpected by the receiver.
Rather than waiting for an opportunity to present itself, revise your thinking to realize “Opportunity is Now Here”. Your active effort will pay off by creating opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
by Megan Koehler