How to contact someone for the first time

  • The most common method of making the first connection with a networking contact is in writing. Either an e-mail or a brief hard-copy letter is acceptable. In some circumstances, with a family friend or former employer for example, a phone call is fine.
  • Enclose a resume so the person knows your background, and send it to his/her business address.
  • Your letter should include: a brief introduction about yourself, the fact that you are a Wesleyan student; why you are writing to this individual; a brief statement of your interests or experiences in the person’s field, organization, or location and why you want to talk. Be straight-forward; tell him/her you are asking for information and advice. Do not ask for an internship or job.
  • Ask for fifteen minutes to a half-hour of the person's time.
  • The last paragraph of the letter should always include a sentence about how and when you will contact this person again. THEN MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW UP THE LETTER AS YOU SAID YOU WOULD! Usually this involves a phone call to set up a phone appointment or an in-person meeting. Never expect the person to phone you. If you have a hard time contacting the person, ask the receptionist when would be a convenient time to phone again.
  • Proofread all of your correspondence (if you're on campus, bring sample letters to Drop Ins for a quick counselor review) and save copies.

    View a sample networking e-mail

    View a sample networking letter

    Following up on your initial contact
    Follow up your letter with a phone call -- for e-mails, call within a week; for letters, call within two weeks. If you stated a specific day and/or time in your initial contact, make sure that you call when you said you would.

    Do not assume that the person is available at the time of your call; the purpose of the follow-up call is to set a conversation time that is mutually convenient.