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Networking Letters

The definition of networking is " the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions." Most networking letters are designed as a means of generating an informational interview or as a point of introduction. The purpose of the informational interview is to gain career advice, learn about the industry, gather additional referrals, and hear about first-hand job experiences pertaining to your particular field. A networking letter is a way to introduce yourself to people in the industry; therefore you want to sound professional. Most networking letters will be at the suggestion of a mutual acquaintance. If this is the case, let the person know who referred you. If not, you should find a logical reason of why you are writing that particular person; such as you recently attended a seminar of theirs. Your letter should state specifically what you hope to gain from the interview. You should be polite, to the point and express your appreciation for their time and consideration.

Give them a bit of your background and where you want to go in your career, but leave out your whole resume. It's not about getting a job, it's to get advice. Instead, take your resume with you on the interview so if they request a copy you are prepared. Lastly, be sure to follow up your letter with a phone call and a thank you letter after the interview.

Networking letters can also be used as a follow up to an initial phone conversation or meeting. In this instance you want to thank them for their time, briefly re-cap the conversation and any action items that resulted. This letter serves two purposes. One, it provides a means of re-stating your qualifications and interest, and two; it serves as a written record of your contact. When you are actively job searching you will probably talk with and meet many people. It's important to stay on top of your correspondence and keep it organized.

Of course in order to write a networking letter, you have to have someone to write to! To create a list of potential network partners think about everyone you know. This includes your friends, family and relatives (even distant ones), community contacts, alumni and teachers, professional organizations you belong to, as well as co-workers. It's amazing how willingly people will share contact information and offer leads.

Keep in touch with everyone. Even if your letter does not generate an immediate response, you never know when circumstances can change in the future. Your efforts may not pay off in this job search, but it just might on the next one.