Regardless of where you are in your career, staying connected to a network is a necessary part of your professional life and advancement. It is to you to set up your networking meetings – whether for coffee, lunch or a phone call. When connecting with a friend or close colleague, the process is easy and straightforward. But with people with whom you are more distantly connected, how should you introduce yourself? How much detail should you include in your email and how much of your agenda should you reveal? And, most importantly, how should you convince busy people to share their time with you? If possible, deliver some value: read their published articles or blog if applicable and provide thoughtful commentary; if they are on twitter, follow and re-tweet; and share any published materials on LinkedIn. In your emails, provide context for your outreach such as who you are and how you identified the recipient as someone you would like to know. Also, be specific and succinct in explaining why you are reaching out. Provide options for the meeting, e.g., coffee or a phone call, which increase the likelihood that a busy person will be able to accommodate you. Acknowledge that their time is valuable and convey respect for it by asking to meet or speak for a short period of time. Another way to ensure that you are conveying respect for a person’s schedule is to make the meeting place convenient for them, location and time wise. Remember that it is crucial to continue conveying respect for a person’s time after they agree to meet with you. Attempt to minimize the back and forth emails scheduling time and place. Once a date is set do everything in your power to make that appointment, as rescheduling conveys that there are other things more important to you than this meeting.
For additional tips, read Scott Britton’s article here.