How to Reach Out to People You Don’t Know…Yet
A healthy network is a growing network. When an opportunity to connect with someone new presents itself, don’t hesitate to take it. When connecting with new individuals, your approach matters. The tone you strike and method you use can make the difference between an annoying cold-call that’s rebuffed and a valued new colleague.
The most effective way to grow your network is through utilizing your current network. Consider your connections. Do you and the individual you are seeking to connect with have any colleagues in common? One you’ve identified a shared connection, evaluate the nature of your relationship. Is this someone you work with regularly or rarely see? Have your interactions been positive and mutual? Once you’ve decided that the relationship is one you can appropriately call on, here are three ways to proceed:
- Ask for an introduction. If it is a close colleague, ask if they would be willing to make an introduction. The more personal and intentional you can be with your request, the better. Best practice is to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Be clear about what you are requesting. For example: “I’m hoping to collaborate on a community development project with DuPaul’s student outreach group. Would you feel comfortable introducing me to Dr. Ravin via email?”
- Ask if you can use their name. If asking for an introduction feels unwarranted given the situation, consider asking their perspective on the connection you’re seeking to foster and asking if you can use their name. This requires very little from them and can open doors for you.
- Consider the medium. Your objective should inform the channel you use to connect. More personal is usually preferable. In many situations a phone call is best, allowing you to show your personality and establish rapport. In other situations a targeted email is ideal. As you assess the situation, give particular attention to the recipient and how they prefer to operate. Don’t reach out through LinkedIn to someone who hasn’t been active on the platform in years.