Consider this: according to a new Robert Half survey of chief financial officers, 50% of respondents said they opt for email to keep in touch with professional colleagues, up from 22% in 2012. Meanwhile only 18% said they like to use social media to network online, down from 45% in 2012.
When it comes to networking the “pendulum is swinging back toward more one-to-one correspondence,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing company Robert Half International. “CFOs are using social media networking less because they are conservative in nature.”
Whether you are trying to network with a CFO or any professional for that matter, email can be affective granted you use it right. From sending an introductory email to having the correct subject line, here’s a look at the best ways to get people to read your networking related email.
Don’t ask for something in your first email
CEOs, CFOs and all the way down to the receptionist are busy and as a result are going to have little time to read emails let alone answer them. Stumble across any email where someone is asking for something and chances are that will quickly end up in the deleted folder. For people trying to network via email, experts say the best course of action is to send an introductory email that doesn’t include any requests such as can you pass my resume along or are you hiring. Instead do your homework, learn about the person and reach out via email to introduce yourself and to showcase your knowledge about the executive and/or company. It’s ok to ask if you can network with the person says McDonald, but you don’t want to ask for a job in the initial email.
Get referred to get read
Whether you are in the oil industry or in media, the circle of people who can help you land a job isn’t massively huge. This is why a referral can really help get your email read, says McDonald. “If I see one that referenced ‘I was referred to you’ I’m going to open it up,” he says. Another tactic that should get your email read: flip it around ask the person for a referral, says Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs. “When you’re trying to make connections in a certain industry or company, email is an easy way to reach out to your contacts to ask for referrals to people with whom you should speak,” she says.
Make your subject line standout
One of the easiest ways to get someone to read you email is to have a subject line that grabs their attention. The best way to do that, says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of job coaching frim Skillful Communications, is to find something in common and include it in the subject line. Let’s say you are reaching out to network with an alumni. Skillings says to add that in the email subject. Same goes if you were referred by someone or if you know a person in common. “Something that resonates and stands out from all the million emails is a common connection,” says Skillings, noting that job seekers have to make it feel more like a personal connection rather than general outreach.
Don’t ask for assistance offer yours
When networking via email it may be easy to fire off a quick note asking for a job or to pass along a resume but job seekers have to remember that regardless of the venue networking is about building a relationship that is beneficial for both of you not a one way street. Jumping right into what you want via email without forging a relationship is often going to be a waste of time. The better approach is to offer to help the person as well as seeking their advice, says Reynolds.
Don’t bore you’re reader
Email is supposed to be quick and concise. Drone on and on and chances are even people who know you aren’t going to read your email. When it comes to networking the last thing you want to do is bore your reader by being too wordy or not getting to the point from the start. A better alternative: make sure you did your homework, have a clear reason for sending the email and don’t waste the person’s time with information they don’t need. “Don’t forget considerateness even in email,” says McDonald. “It tells you a lot about what the person is like and what to expect if it’s a long email.”