In today’s job search, relationships are just as important as your professional experience. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 roles are filled through networking. And if you’re hoping to land an internship or an entry-level role at major companies like Google or Apple, you need to start building connections.
But really, what does it mean to network with other marketers? And where can students even start? Take a look through this eight-step process to help you build meaningful and lasting connections.
1. Write down your professional goals
Before you start sending out messages and emails, consider what you hope to gain out of networking. Are you looking for an internship? Or are you simply exploring different industries? Start by writing down a list of five goals you hope to achieve by networking – and keep these in mind as you move forward in the process
Do: Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based).
Don’t: Start networking without a purpose.
2. Consider your capacity
As students, you can’t realistically network all day. You likely have classes, extracurricular activities, and projects – so you need to enable yourself to network while focusing on other areas.
For example, trying to meet at least five professionals every day will cause you to burn out. If you’re juggling a million different things, start small. Consider sending out three emails every day and aiming to meet with two people per week. If you feel you can dedicate more time to networking, then do it. But remember to think realistically about how to fit networking into your schedule.
Do: Fit networking into your schedule accordingly.
Don’t: Burn yourself out.
3. Make use of LinkedIn’s filtered search
Now that you have a clear goal lined out, consider using LinkedIn to start off your networking. Using LinkedIn’s search function, you can find professionals and filter by their location, school, previous companies, and more.
Why does this matter? Because personalization is the core of effective networking. Rather than sending emails at random, find professionals with similar experiences to you. For example, consider searching for professionals who went to your school.
When determining who to reach out to, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did they study at the same school I went to?
- Did we work at the same company before?
- Do we share any LinkedIn connections?
- Are we from the same town/area?
- Have they published content I can reference?
By finding out this information, you’re able to personalize your outreach – which increases your chances of getting a response. People want to feel you’ve made a genuine attempt to contact them. In fact, many will ignore emails without personalization.
Do: Find points of similarity between yourself and the connection.
Don’t: Ignore personalization.
4. Create a networking tracker
To keep track of your networking, you should create a Google Sheet or Excel file. If you plan on sending out five emails per day, you need to remember when to follow up with these people and, more importantly, if they’ve responded to you.
When creating a tracker, make use of the following columns:
- Contact Information
- Email Sent
- Connection (e.g., school, company, etc.)
- Status (e.g., No Response, Response, Meeting Scheduled)
If a professional agrees to meet with you, the last thing you want to do is miss it without reason. They are taking time out of their busy work schedule – and a tracker will keep you updated on your networking efforts.
Take a look at the following tracker I’ve used.
This tracker enables me to follow up accordingly and gives me a high-level overview of my networking efforts. To help you get started, download this free tracker I’ve created below:
Do: Keep track of your networking.
Don’t: Assume you can mentally keep track.
5. Figure out their email address
Professionals will rarely put their email on LinkedIn. Thankfully, many companies use similar formats – it just takes a bit of experimenting. Here are a few email formats companies use:
After you’ve drafted your outreach email, try sending it to one of the formats above. If the email fails to send, you’ll receive an error – enabling you to try one of the other options. If all else fails, try shortening the company name.
Do: Try out different email formats.
Don’t: Give up if the first email doesn’t work.
6. Draft your outreach text
Now that you have a list of professionals to reach out to, you need to spend time drafting your outreach email. Five components – subject, introduction, body, call-to-action, and conclusion – will make or break an effective message.
1 in 3 recipients will choose to open emails with catchy subject lines. Why? Because people have little time for uninteresting content and will act accordingly.
In the context of networking emails, you want to make your subject lines as personal as possible. Try using their name or mentioning a specific project they’ve worked on. Consider the following examples:
- Hello [Name], let’s get coffee!
- Hey [Name], can I introduce myself?
- Eager marketing student looking to get advice on [a specific topic]
- I really love the work you’re doing at [company]!
These subject lines focus on the recipient – and you should always strive to keep them in mind when writing a catchy subject line.
Think you can dive right into yourself in the introduction? Not quite. Now that you’ve gotten your recipient to open your email, you need to keep them there.
According to HubSpot’s Sales team, people like to talk about themselves above all else. Rather than diving into a personal introduction, mention their work or an article you read about them. Continue talking about them and keep the conversation about them.
Now that you’ve established what you know about them, you can dedicate some time explaining why you’re reaching out. Here, you should use the similar characteristics you found in step three. Consider the following examples:
- “I’m super interested in the work you’re doing at Company X and would love to learn more about that. Are you free for coffee next week?”
- “We actually went to the same university – and I’d love to learn more about your experience with Company Y.”
- “We share Toni as a connection on LinkedIn – and she recommended I reach out to learn more about your time with Company Z.”
While you should take the opportunity to introduce yourself, never make the focus of an outreach email yourself. In fact, after explaining your reason for reaching out, consider how you can add value to this person’s professional life:
- “I actually took a class on digital marketing recently – and I have some perspectives I’d love to share on your recent article.”
- “I saw you’ve been working primarily on SEO. I actually just finished a research project on that and would love to share my insights.”
- “I recently interned in a social media marketing role – and I saw you managed the social team at Company X. I think I have some ideas I’d love to share with you and your team!”
Even as a marketing student, you have valuable insights and advice. Companies of any size want to hear from newer generations about upcoming trends – and marketers are no different.
If you need help developing projects before reaching out to marketers, check out five ways to stand out as a great student marketer.
If your reader has made it to the call-to-action, you’ve almost succeeded in getting a response. Here, you want to make it as painless as possible for the recipient to arrange a meeting. Be direct and specific – and avoid the following:
- “Are you free in the next two weeks for a phone call?”
- “When are you free to chat?”
- “I’m free all next week – how about you?”
You might think giving the recipient complete flexibility in arranging the time will encourage them to respond – but this isn’t true. In fact, if they respond with a time you can’t do, you will have to reply to get another option. Professionals have limited time – and continuous back and forth can cause the conversation to fade away.
Instead, be direct yet thoughtful:
- “Are you free on September 20th at 11 am EST? Or would September 22nd at 2 pm work better?”
- “I’m free to chat from 11 am to 3 pm this Friday. I’m also available from 10 am to 2 pm on Monday.”
You want to give the recipient a clear way to respond. Tell them when the conversation can happen explicitly and move forward.
At this point, you’ve written the hard part. At the conclusion, you should simply express your appreciation for their time and consideration. Additionally, you should state your excitement about meeting with them.
To really make the email personal, try incorporating their name in your sign off:
- “Thanks so much for your time, Pete – looking forward to our chat!”
- “Appreciate you reading this, Emilia – let me know if you have any questions.”
- “Thanks, Robert – excited to get coffee soon!”
By using their name twice in the email, you’re really making it clear this is about them and no one else.
You now have a firm understanding of what makes a great outreach email – let’s bring it all together. Take a look at the following format to help you get started:
[Insert relevant factoid about the recipient] [Explain your reason for reaching out] [Mention specific times you want to meet with them] [Thank them, express your excitement, and use their name]
When finalizing the email, remember to keep it short and sweet. Break apart your paragraphs into lines to make them as readable as possible.
Do: Write thoughtful, direct, and personal outreach emails.
Don’t: Copy and paste the same email to different recipients.
7. Send out messages, emails, and even Tweets
In today’s ever-evolving world, networking can extend beyond the realm of emails. Some want to keep their professional relationships outside of their work – so sending a message on LinkedIn might be more appropriate.
Of course, this greatly depends on the culture of their company and industry. Within tech, you have a lot more creative liberty. In fact, HubSpot published an article explaining how one colleague got hired after tweeting at their hiring manager – and it worked.
Do: Consider using other mediums when networking.
Don’t: Use different platforms without first researching the company’s culture.
8. Always follow up
Professionals are busy – and sometimes an email or two might slip through the cracks. If you don’t receive a response to your first email, always follow up. In the world of sales, response rates for emails after the first are almost always better. But remember to follow up after enough time has passed – which is typically three to five days.
Keep the follow-up email short and simple – reiterate your interest in meeting them and express your gratitude.
Do: Wait three to five days before following up.
Don’t: Give up after the first email.
Finally, you have an effective eight-step process to networking as a marketing student. While this guide will benefit you as you apply for internships and part-time opportunities, networking will follow you throughout your professional career. Keep these tips in the back of your pocket – as it could one day land you your dream job.
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