Once you’ve established who may have useful contacts, get in touch and ask for their help. The following tips may assist you with this initial approach:
Do have a clear ask –Employers appreciate a clear, concise ask which outlines the requirements and makes the benefit of engaging apparent, so have this from the outset. For example, you may be looking for employers to sit on a panel session around a particular topic, or perhaps you’re just looking for an initial chat to scope out what’s possible. Be as clear as you can about this from the outset. Ensuring that your institutional contact understands your ask is crucial, as they can keep it in mind and perhaps may pass on a future contact they have who’s a good fit for what you want.
Do emphasise any mutual benefit – As well as benefits to the employer, it’s worth highlighting the benefits of helping you to your internal contacts. This requires some understanding of the key drivers or performance indicators for the team you are approaching. For example, alumni relations teams may measure the amount of time given to university activities as a key performance indicator, and working with you on Prosper may contribute towards this. Partnership development teams may have a menu of engagement opportunities that they can offer potential external partners, and engaging with Prosper might enhance this.
Don’t assume you should make the approach yourself - Your colleagues are likely to prefer to reach out to any employer contacts themselves in the first instance. They’re more likely to do this if you provide them with a short template that they can use and adapt. An example is provided below. If your colleagues are happy for you to make the initial approach, don’t forget to mention them in your email to the employer and include them in cc when making contact. Download example email text here.
Don’t forget to return the favour – It’s simple, but if others are prepared to share their contacts with you, then they will appreciate you responding in kind. Learn about their work and keep in mind their own offer and ask to employers. As your network expands, if you encounter a contact who might be a good fit for these, be sure to make an introduction.