Networking letters can be used to request an informational interview or make an intitial contact with an alum.
General Rules of Thumb...
Before sending any letter, make sure it includes:
- How you learned of the individual, and why you are writing (i.e. what you hope to accomplish)
- Information about you (be brief, remember your goal is not to sell yourself but to get information)
- Why you are specifically interested in talking to them (don't go "over the top" but do express enthusiasm and curiosity about their work).
- Information about how you can be contacted, how you will follow-up and a brief statement of appreciation for their time.
If you are sending the request via e-mail you do not need to include a formal address header; however, please add the formal salutation (i.e. Dear "Mr. Jones" instead of "Dear Phil").
If You Are Contacting a Member of the Dartmouth Career Network: As noted in our Alumni Network Guidelines, we recommend that you utilize the network participant's preferred mode of contact (i.e. snail mail, phone or e-mail) to establish contact.
If You Are "Cold-Calling a Contact": You may still use the basic structure of the letters like below. However, be sure to make it clear how you learned of the contact (i.e. through a friend or professional contact, by reading a publication, through a professional association directory, etc.).
Sample Networking Letters
Dear Ms. Tayle:
I am currently a sophomore at Dartmouth College and I'm interested in investigating career opportunities in Chemical Engineering. Through the use of Thayer School Career Services' Alumni Network, I learned of your current work in the field and your interest in serving as a resource for current students. I am, therefore, writing to request an informational interview with you at your convenience.
I am very interested in learning about the responsibilities, qualifications, career growth potential, positive and negative aspects of working in the field, and any additional information that would help me in my decision-making process. More specifically, I am currently in the process of deciding whether to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences modified with Chemistry or whether to take additional coursework at Thayer School to obtain a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering. I would appreciate your comments and any suggestions you might offer. (Although I will be looking for an internship in the field for next year, please understand that I do not expect you to have or know of an appropriate opportunity)
Thank you, in advance for your participation in the network, and for giving me the opportunity to get an "insider's" view of your field. I will call you next week to schedule a meeting. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at (603) 000-0000 or via e-mail (email@example.com). Thank you again for your time.
Joan E. Zaza
Dear Mr. Callapitter:
Through the Thayer School of Engineering's Career Services office, I learned of your work in technical sales and of your willingness to share career-related information with current students and alumni. I am currently in the process of completing my Master of Engineering Management degree and am hoping to work in technical sales for medical devices. I am writing to request your advice on how I might approach a job search in your field. I would like to begin my career as a technical sales representative and eventually move into a management level position.
As a job seeker, I've tried to pursue both experiences in sales (mostly through part-time work during high school and quarter breaks at Sears) and in learning about medical devices through my engineering coursework and project experiences. I've heard anecdotally that "it is difficult to obtain an entry-level position in technical sales management with an industry leader without at least two years of related field experience in full-time sales." I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this "hiring trend" and your insight on how I may further strengthen my resume and knowledge of your field.
I am trying to gather as much information as possible before applying for positions. Could I take a few minutes of your time next week to discuss my career plans? Perhaps you could suggest how I might improve my resume, which you will find enclosed, and who might be interested in my qualifications. In addition, I am very interested to learn how you attained your current position, as a high level management position is one of my long-term goals. I will call you on Monday, November 22, to arrange a phone meeting at your convenience.
I would appreciate any help you could provide and look forward to speaking with you. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at (315) 555-2154 or via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).