6 words you must use in a networking email

Networking email is one of the best ways to expand your connections—especially these days when much of our business and office hours are held entirely online.

Whether you’re hoping to connect with different professionals in your field or expand into different industries, networking emails are effective and non-invasive—but there are a handful of rules to keep in mind when approaching a new contact, especially when it comes to the language you intend on using.

You’ve yet to establish a relationship with the individual you’re reaching out to, so being polite and professional should be a given—but it goes much further than that. You’ll want to make sure you use the right words in order to come off professionally curious about the other person without overstepping your boundaries.

To help get you started on the right foot, we tapped into our own network of career experts to get their best insights on the words you must use in a networking email—from niceties to terms that will help break the ice, here’s what you should be saying in a proper networking email.

It’s been forever!

In the case of people that you have not been in contact with for a long time, the simplest way to restart the relationship is with the subject line that says, “It feels like 50 years since we were last in touch.”

According to Jeff Altman, Career and Leadership Coach at The Big Game Hunter, what this does is immediately acknowledge that the two of you have been out of contact.

The body of the message can read, “Obviously, we have both been busy and have not maintained contact. Your name popped into my mind this morning and I thought I would drop a quick note to you to see if we might chat again.”

Be friendly and make the first contact about reconnecting, rather than, “You know about any jobs?”

I was referred by…

“With a cold contact, there is no simple formula,” explains Altman.

“You are dealing with spam filters and busy people who may not have the time to be responsive to a stranger, especially one who wants to ‘pick their brain.’” Instead, look for someone who can provide an introduction so you message the words, “I am referred by Full Name of the Person to you” as the subject line of the message.

I appreciate your work.

“The best words to use in a networking email are: I’m writing because I’ve seen you do X on X,” explains Jane Kovalkova, CMO at Chanty. “In other words, that you know this person from somewhere and that it’s not a random cold outreach email and a request to get them to do something for you.”

Show the person you’re connecting with that you know them and their work and that you’re not connecting for no reason at all. With emails like this, a response is warranted almost every time.

It was great talking to you.

“I like to use these words as part of a networking introduction, such as ‘it was great talking yesterday’ or ‘I’m glad we had the chance to connect via Zoom,’” explains Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “These adjectives express that you were excited to meet and network with the individual, whether you’ve known them for a while or just met them.”

I need your advice.

According to Sonya Schwartz, Founder of Her Norm, asking for advice is a much more respectful way of asking for a favor from the person you are sending the email to. “Instead of feeling burdened and troubled in responding to your request, there is a greater chance that they will willingly share their knowledge with you,” Schwartz explains. “It is like showing how their wisdom would be of great help and how they know better which is why you are asking for their advice.”

“I think you’ll find this interesting.”

This type of approach is like a bait when used in a subject line which can boost the recipient’s curiosity. However, according to Schwartz, you still need to be concise and clear with your message while being humble in order to get a response.