• Shane Shown

Networking is NOT spamming everyone you know with your credentials.

Every single day I receive emails with a copy and paste template.

View Exhibit A:

“I am a graduate Statistics student at Carnegie Mellon University actively seeking full time opportunities in the field of Data Science/Machine Learning. I am currently in great academic standing (4.0 GPA) and can provide strong academic reference letters upon request. I am also working on an industrial data science project with Google, where I am using new unsupervised clustering algorithms to cluster Google’s customers for targeted marketing. Would you be open to sharing my resume with the relevant hiring teams so they know about my interest in the team? I would greatly appreciate your help. Happy to chat more if you have the time as well. Looking forward to hearing from you.”

While I appreciate the message, it’s not unique. I receive this exact same email multiple times an hour. This message was made for the intent of mass distribution. I understand that the market is difficult and your professors tell you that it’s a numbers game! While this is true, this approach is going to do your harm more than it’s going to do you good. Any SDR (Sales Development Rep) and Marketer can explain this to you in detail about Mass Emails.

This post pertains to more than new graduates looking for an entry level position. The purpose of this article is to help the average noob navigate networking on Social Media.

Who should you reach out to?

In my personal opinion, I try to connect with people I want to learn from in life. I am open to connecting with leaders in my industry and hoping to find nuggets from them. My goal isn’t to request a job. My goal isn’t to request a referral.

Personally, I’m not going to offer a job to someone I don’t know. Second, I’m not going to refer someone that I have no met, regardless if you have the best resume on the planet. I might pass along your resume, but that comes with the caveat that I don’t know the individual on a personal or professional level. Therefore, the only value is that your resume got in the hands of someone else (Hopefully the right person).  

My goal is to learn from them. Genuinely learn. Too many people request for something prematurely. This creates auto rejection before you have a chance.

First, give before you receive.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I give something to a Director, VP, or CTO to a company when I’m a college graduate?” Well, that’s a valid question. What you have to offer might be fairly limited. So, offer genuine curiosity, interested, and unique motivation.

Leaders feel inspired by individuals with motivation to progress in life. What is an example of initial message that can make a leader feel like there’s genuine interest?

“Hey John, we don’t know each other and I am hoping to change that. First, I want to admit that I felt inspired by your career progression. One day, I want to be a Director of Software Development at a company with a great reputation like Facebook. I would love to pick your brain and learn how you get there. Would you be open to starting a conversation?”

What does this message do?

1.      Acknowledging this is a cold email.  

2.      Inserting a form of admiration.

3.      Stating my goals for the future.

4.      Asking for advice from a potential mentor.

5.      Asking a question that isn’t intrusive.

The goal of this message is to inspire a response. You don’t need to add your credentials. Ideally, you have a LinkedIn profile that has all of that information readily available.  If you need tip, click here. You want your initial message to be unique and engaging. At the same time, you don’t want the reader feeling like they’re reviewing your dissertation.

So, what exactly are you “giving?” You’re giving someone the opportunity to share their experience. Their story. Honestly, to the right people, it’s fulfilling. On the off chance the individual is willing to meet, buy this person coffee or lunch. Show the person you value their time and advice.

Be genuine when you are Networking.

If you get the chance to meet or speak to someone, use your time wisely. Understand that networking is an opportunity to learn and exchange value. For a new grad, value is recognized by future potential outcome. Therefore, the Manager or Director will want to provide advice and transfer wisdom. If you receive advice, actually listen. Absorb everything.  

Depending on how the conversation goes, advice might include homework. It might be to study a topic and a follow up meeting to review content. If this happens, you 100% need to follow through. This allows you to earn a seal of approval and could get you the recommendation you want. Best case scenario, a leader gives you an assignment and some minor form of assessment. To be clear, you want this to happen naturally. You might have to try and meet someone multiple times before you get to this point. It’s better to be offered an opportunity to interview than to ask. 

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