Business students on the job search know the drill on the networking email:
Tell the reader where and what you’re studying. Mention your career focus. Express admiration for the reader’s accomplishments. Ask for assistance, suggestions, connections. Invite reader for coffee.
Now think of this drill from the reader’s perspective:
Meeting you will take time and energy, two commodities in short supply for anyone you’re likely to want to network with. You may get a few contacts, some information about life in the company and industry, (and maybe some bragging rights about having a meeting on Wall St.) The reader will get…coffee. Even if the reader does respond positively to your invitation (more likely if he or she is an alum of your school or connected through mutual acquaintances)—it’s hard to imagine that he or she is going to be particularly excited about the prospect or engaged in the process. While there may always be a place for the standard “cool” networking email, Sar Haribhakti energetically urges an alternative, “warmed up” version in his blog post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sar-haribhakti/warm-up-those-emails-_b_8126960.html.
This personalized, “warmed-up” email may be connected to a job search, but it is also likely to be a channel for you to begin to develop a quality, deeper-level professional relationship that may last throughout your career.
According to Haribhakti, the warm networking email at least holds promise that your relationship with the reader will be deeper and more reciprocal than shallow and “parasitic”. (Seems like a good way to go!)
Some of the time you currently spend generating countless cool emails can be spent researching more deeply about a person or persons you admire, are inspired by, are truly interested in. After researching, see if you can identify a natural connection as the basis for your email: (Did you, like the famous yogurt maker, grow up helping to run the family business? Are you, like the owner of an award-winning advertising firm, dedicated to creating a positive workplace environment for all your employees? Have you got a new idea for applying cutting-edge analytical tools you’re learning to challenges in a particular industry? Are you both great chess players?)
Connect with your reader through a common passion or experience. Share an interesting idea or observation you have that might even make the reader’s life easier!
By warming up your emails, you are much more likely to be sowing the seeds for a potentially richer, longer-term relationship than a conventional cool email can yield. True, you may still end up meeting for coffee, but your reader might even stay for a warm up!