Once you’ve identified a professional you’d like to meet through the Online Directory or another source, write a clear, succinct letter or email to request a meeting following these tips:
- Keep your messages short
- Use a typeface and formatting that is easy to read (use at least a 12pt font)
- Make the subject line descriptive so the recipient will know why you are writing (example, “Referred by [Name] to discuss [Topic]” or “Fellow Alum From [College] Who Enjoys [Industry]”
- Save the high priority/urgent option for real emergencies
- Do not use cute abbreviations or emojis
- Do not write all in capitals – it is the email equivalent of SHOUTING
- Do not attach your resume to a request letter; you can share it later
- Specify the amount of time you are requesting, should be no more than 30 minutes
- Re-read the email before sending; check the tone and ensure that it is error-free
Show respect for your contact’s time by being prompt and prepared and by sticking with the allotted time (usually about 20 minutes) you agreed on. Prepare yourself by researching the organization to impress your contact as well as to avoid wasting time asking the obvious. Write out a list of well thought-out questions and refer to them during your meeting. It is fine to take notes, and useful to obtain a business card. Thank the contact at the end of your discussion and leave promptly.
Write a personalized thank you note, referring to specific advice or information you particularly appreciated and send it promptly. This can be by email or on notepaper or a note card. It is appropriate to update contacts about your progress from time to time, and even to ask further advice. Don’t forget to notify all of your contacts when you accept a new job, and thank them again for their help.