Connect with class: Best practices for making new connections

No matter what stage of your career you are in, there's always a need to make new connections. Use these tips to ensure efficient, effective and engaging communications.

No matter what stage of your career you are in, there’s always a need to make new connections. Use these tips to ensure efficient, effective and engaging communications.

By Phil Stella

Have you ever gotten an email like this? 

Hi Phil, 

Tony Grosso suggested I contact you. I’d like to meet with you to net-work and discuss my job search. Let me know some good times to get together. 

Chuck Upton

While clear, concise and harmless enough, Chuck missed the mark. He could have been much more effective, efficient and engaging – and perhaps a little less rude and presumptuous.  

Of course, you certainly don’t want to drag on and on in an email – or in any communication for that matter. However, I might find the email more compelling, and I might be more receptive to the idea of investing my time in Chuck, with a bit more information.  

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There are a number of additional things Chuck could have considered including, such as:

1. How he knows Tony. How well Chuck is connected to Tony might influence my willingness to make an effort to help him. If it’s only that he met Tony at a networking event, then not so much. Dropping names can be helpful if done right. As the email is, it doesn’t provide a very warm or effective lead.

2. Who he is. If Chuck had provided details on his background, his story and job search, it might also influence how much time I might want to spend. If I can relate to where he’s been and where he wants to go, I might feel more of an emotional connection and have more interest in helping him.

3. Why me. Why did Tony suggest he talk to me? What does he hope to learn? How can I help him? The more value I can offer him, the better for both of us. If I’m one of five names Tony gave to Chuck without any specific reason, our interaction will be minimal.

4. What he wants to discuss. If he had listed a few specific discussion points, it would have been easier for me to determine how focused he is and how much value I might be able to pro-vide. The better the questions, the better the reaction. 

How do you determine what professional groups to get involved with? This question is concise, relevant and focused. I won’t mind listing out those groups that I’ve found helpful and why. I might even offer to set up some connections on Chuck’s behalf.

How did you get started? For many established experts or entrepreneurs, this question could be a turnoff. It’s way too historical and time consuming for me to want to answer or to produce useful information for Chuck.

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5. What would work for me. He would have shown that he valued my time more if he had asked to continue the conversation by phone or email, as opposed to telling me he would like to schedule a face-to-face meeting. If Chuck is seeking specific in-formation, holding out for an in-person meeting might negatively impact his efforts.

Here’s a better email:

Hi Phil, 
Tony Grosso and I were co-workers at Writers Inc. for several years and he recently suggested I contact you. I have worked in various marketing and communications roles for the last 15 years and I am now considering starting my own marketing business. With your ex-tensive background as a workplace communications trainer and consultant, Tony thought you would be an excellent connection as I begin navigating this new career path.  

I am specifically wondering if you might tell me which professional groups have been helpful for you to get involved with, and if you know of any other marketing consultants I could talk to? 

If your schedule allows for a brief phone call – or even a cup of coffee – I would love the opportunity to chat with you. Or, if email is preferred, that works well for me too. I am so appreciative of your time and any thoughts you would be willing to share.

Best Regards,
Chuck Upton

Furthermore, if Chuck really wanted to get my attention, he could have asked Tony to call me on his behalf. Assuming Tony had some skin in his game and also was someone on my “A List,” I’d be more inclined to help. This is especially true if I owed Tony a return professional courtesy for an earlier favor. Those factors would turn this into a very warm, if not a hot, lead.

So, if you’ve tried to network like Chuck before – with a casual, unengaging email – commit to a better approach. Be more effective, efficient and engaging. Network with uncommon courtesy … with focus and finesse. When you embrace these simple best practices, your networking 2.0 will propel you from shaky and shabby to shining and successful.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440-804-4785, and empowers business leaders to re-duce the pain with workplace communication and sales pitches A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   


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