Having an “in” can go a long way toward opening the door to a virtual introduction. But what if you don’t have anyone in common with someone you’d like to meet? How can you cut through the clutter of daily life — emails, text messages, calls and way too many intrusions on our time — in a way that will ensure you’ll get a response? Here is what you can do to begin a meaningful connection with someone new.

Personalize your correspondence. When reaching out online to someone you don’t know, be clear about why you’re writing but stay away from jargon and buzz words that don’t mean anything. Stick to what’s real. If you have a shared University of Arizona experience — what you majored in or a team you played on — then tell them something anecdotal that they’ll understand and, hopefully, appreciate. Be forthright and clear but, most of all, be yourself.

Do some research. Look into the person you plan to contact. Delve into their social media to see if they have a presence and, if so, what are their interests? People love to talk about the things they’re passionate about, whether it’s their family, favorite singer or anything else they may post about. When you reach out, mention that you enjoyed their Instagram post about “The Mandalorian” or that you saw on LinkedIn that they commented on a topic you’re interested in, too. We’re all flattered when people take the time to get to know us — even a little bit and even online — so make sure to put some time into learning something about them. 

Craft a direct message that engages. It’s more about what you say than how you say it. Although you should make sure to use correct grammar and spelling to show your message was thoughtfully written. Be conversational but not conventional — and definitely don’t go on too long. This should be a brief, informal introduction that hopefully paves the way to more discussion. Ask them a question or two so they’ll feel engaged and know that you’re looking for a mutually beneficial professional relationship — not a one-sided arrangement that’s all about you. Communicate that you are an active member of your community who could use some advice or guidance, or have something they may be interested in that you would like to share. Those are messages that are hard to ignore.    

An Easy Template

Now, put these tips into action and follow this outline for an email, comment or other means of getting in touch:

1. Start with the real you. Introduce yourself as a fellow Arizona graduate and tell them why you decided to contact them. What is it about them that inspired you to reach out when you could have gotten in touch with anyone on the Bear Down Network?

2. Engage them on a topic you know they value. Find the common ground that attracted you to them and mention it. Let them know why you already feel a kinship beyond where you both went to school.

3. Be conversational but respectful. Don’t be overly familiar — after all, you don’t know each other — but make sure to opt for a brief, casual conversation over a dense, formal letter.

4. Make sure to ask questions. Ask a question or two, preferably on the topic(s) relevant to why you decided to contact them in the first place. Asking questions is always a good way to encourage a response — in networking and in life.

 

Get Connected

Ready to start building meaningful professional relationships? Get started making connections on the Bear Down Network today.