Connect: How to Network

Take advantage of opportunities to meet professionals in person. Start by talking with family and friends at events and social gatherings. Follow-up with those you are referred to by scheduling in-person meetings.

While in-person networking is most effective, it is often necessary to initiate a connection in another way (phone, email) in order to arrange an in-person meeting. Send an email first. Do not include your resume if you are contacting a professional for the first time and have had no previous correspondence with or introduction to her/him. Say in your email that you will follow-up with a phone call, and do so within three or four business days of when you originally send your message.

Once you are ready to contact a professional by phone, be prepared for the inevitable game of phone tag and the possibility of catching your contact off guard. It may help to specify when you plan to call in your original email. For example, “I will call you on Wednesday afternoon to see if we could arrange a time to meet.”

Here is what we recommend:

  1. Write a networking email and have it reviewed by a Career Counselor.
  2. Research the company and industry.
  3. Polish your resume.

Sample networking email

Draft a letter of inquiry and have it looked at by a Career Services Office staff member for tone and clarity. We can help you determine if you are being too passive or aggressive, whether you have the right word choices, etc. Here is an example of a brief email sent to a potential contact:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I received your email from Ami Cammarota in the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education, who recommended I reach out to you. I am a junior at William Smith College, studying political science.

Ami suggested I contact you because of your familiarity with the nonprofit sector. I am looking into opportunities in the federal government, and she thought you might be able to help given your experience at both the U.S. Department. Would it be possible to speak with you about your experiences?

I appreciate any help or perspective you can offer in whatever depth your schedule allows. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Sample follow-up call

Caller: This is Jamie White calling for Mr. Smith.

Receiver: Speaking.

Caller:Ami Cammarota, from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, recommended that I reach out to you about my interest in the federal government as well as nonprofits. I actually sent you an email regarding this last week.

Receiver: How is Ami? I haven’t spoken to her in a while?

Caller:She’s doing great. She is still working in the Career Services Office at Hobart and William Smith. She recommended I do more informational interviewing to research my career interests, and that’s when your name came up.

Receiver: That’s great to hear. Please give Ami my regards. Now I know I saw your email, but perhaps you can remind me how I can help you?

Caller:I am currently a junior at William Smith College, majoring in political science. I’m looking at opportunities in the federal government such as the State Department.  Ami thought you might be able to help by offering a better look at exactly what your job entails…

In all correspondence with a professional:

  • Be concise
  • Make a connection between you and the reader
  • State your purpose without pressuring the reader
  • Explain your situation briefly
  • Request a meeting or conversation at a mutually convenient time, indicate that you will call

When networking, never start out asking for an internship or job!

If you do decide to make initial contact via phone, plan ahead of time what you will say.

Here is an example:

“Hi, my name is ___________. I am a ___(class year)____ at (Hobart/William Smith) college exploring employment opportunities in the field of ___(occupational area)____, in ___(city)____. I am particularly interested in what your company/organization does. I found your name in the career network (or it was passed on to me by ___(name)___). I was hoping you might be someone I could talk to about what it’s like working for ___(company name)____. Could we schedule a time in the next few days to talk more over the phone or in person?

Note: If you would like to call an organization to inquire about internships or jobs, and you do not have a specific contact name, say to the person who answers:

“I’d like to speak with the director of _____(department of interest)______, please.” “Hi, my name is _______. I’m calling to inquire if you currently have any job openings available for ___(position type)___ or if you anticipate any openings in the near future?”

If no,

“May I send you a copy of my résumé to keep on file in the event that something should become available?”

*Be prepared to answer questions about your own experiences, skills, interests and goals, and always follow up with a thank you note!


Research the industry, organization, and job title of your contact in order to formulate
thoughtful questions for her/him. Depending on your goals for the meeting, plan to ask for career information, leads, advice, referrals, ideas, etc.


Make sure you have an up-to-date resume that displays your relevant skills and background
experiences. Have it critiqued by a Career Services staff member! Professionals you correspond with may eventually want to see your resume to learn more about you.

*Persistence and politeness are the keys to finding success with networking!

(Source: St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career-


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.