Making Connections: First Contact

By Marianne Brigola, Career Advisor for the School of Communications

Congratulations iMedia students! Y’all made it through the half-way point of the first semester. Today is the first day back from fall break! At this point, everyone is in the midst of the craziness that is graduate school. Classes are in full swing, Fly-In assignments were recently announced and on top of that many of you are starting to get serious about your job search. I’ve met with several iMedia students already + have gotten requests from others to connect with them on LinkedIn.

The majority of iMedia students are probably exploring career options–still trying to learn what they’re interested in, what type of career might be the best fit for them, what skills they’re learning in the program that is the most exciting for them. One of the best ways to learn more about careers + companies is to engage in some informational interviewing and networking! But once you find someone to reach out to–how do you make first contact? Below are some tips to increase the success of your first message/email:

Personalized messages increase your chances of getting a response

Start with a specific subject line: Professionals are busy people–provide them with context about your message even before they open it. “Interested in learning about your role as Web Developer” will inspire more curiosity from the reader that “Informational Interview request”

Introduce Yourself + Purpose: Again, context + personalization is key here. How did you find this person? Did you do a search on LinkedIn, get referred to them by a mutual contact, come across their profile in a group? Let them know how you’re connected. Once you’ve established that–why are you writing. Get to the main point of your message quickly. The shorter + more concise your message is, the better. This potential contact doesn’t have the time to read your entire biography in the first message. This should be more about what you hope to learn from them.

Close the deal + Say Thank You: At the end of an interview, you’ll sometimes hear that it’s important to make sure you close with “The Ask:” When will I hear from you? What are the next steps in this process?  In the first message to a contact, the same principle applies. Make sure you remember to ask for some of their time to learn about their company/role/background, etc. Be specific–how much of their time do you want + how do you want it (typically a 15-20 minute phone interview is a good start). You don’t want to ask for too much of their time and increase the chances of them replying with “No, I don’t have that much time.” And of course, be sure to be gracious and thank them in advance–for reading your message and responding.

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