Maintaining a relationship with a professional contact can be a tricky task, especially if the other person outranks you or may prove useful in your job search. If you are new to networking, it can be difficult to balance your personal interest in maintaining a relationship with professionalism. You know the other person is busy – how much is too much? What is appropriate to email them about? There are a few tips to ensuring that your messages sound genuine and are as valuable for the contact as they are for you.
Consider the Frequency of Contact
How often you should interact varies from situation to situation. If you are contacting a former internship supervisor to update them on your progress through your degree, for example, once a month is plenty. If you are following up with someone for an interview, introduction to a new contact, or future meeting, then once a week may be more appropriate. Consider the urgency of your situation. If it is time-sensitive, then more frequent contact is fine.
Make the Message Useful
Instead of sending a long-winded email about your life, be conversational. One way to do this is to inquire about something specific in their life (“How was your daughter’s wedding?”) or share something related to a previous conversation (“This article reminded me of our conversation about SEO.”) Remember – the person in question probably gets hundreds of emails a day. Try to make yours easy to reply to, instead of being another chore in their inbox.
Remind Them Who You Are
Depending on the context of your email, you may need to remind the other person how you met. Reference how you met, who you got their email/name from, or any other identifying information. Make it as simple as possible for the other person to remember who you are.
Following these simple guidelines will help your messages be well-received by the other party. Be sure to think about their perspective while composing your message – your emails will improve immensely!