The Perfect Question

We totally get it: it’s not easy to network, to ask for help. How do you find the best person to connect with, with the right expertise and interests?  How do you start? What do you ask?

The best way to think about “asking”  like storytelling: there’s “setting the stage”, the “meat + potatoes” part, and the “happy ending”. Draw them in, make them care.

The Title

Your email subject line, and the first clue for the recipient (if this is something she can help with or not). Not more than 4-5 words that summarize your question.

Computer science minor?

Short and intriguing. And easily readable on any device.

The Beginning

Your name, role, organization, what you do. Keep it simple.

Hi there!

My name is Amy Smith, and I am a junior in the engineering program at ABC University.

You’ve got your name and how you and the recipient are connected (as an alum of ABC university). Boom.

The Compelling Narrative

How the recipient can help you, and why. Think short story, not Tolstoy. Be direct, clear, and concise so that the alum can quickly determine if she can or cannot help. Don’t make them guess.

I am trying to decide if I should minor in Computer Science to be more attractive to future employers. It would be more coursework and likely an additional semester, so I am wondering: Is it worth it?

That question in the right hands (relevant alumni) will get a response. We promise.

Happy Ending

The most important part is the ‘thank-you’ and your contact information. Include your email address and phone number so that the recipient has options to contact you.

Thank you for your insights, I really appreciate it.

Amy
amy.smith@abcuniversity.edu
999-999-9999

The best way to think about a request is an advertisement. A clear and eye-catching headline (subject). Value prop. And easy call-to-action.

So let’s summarize:

Subject: Thoughts about selecting a minor?

Hi there!

My name is Amy Smith, and I am a junior in the engineering program at ABC University.

I am trying to decide if I should minor in Computer Science to be more attractive to future employers. It would be more coursework and likely an additional semester, so I am wondering: Is it worth it?

Thank you for your insights, I really appreciate it.

Amy

amy.smith@abcuniversity.edu

999-999-9999

So why would someone respond to this question? Aimed at an alum who has minored in computer science and likely faced the same decision, this is a home run. They will feel strong about having made the right or wrong call, and share their perspective.

Oh, and you can never, ever say thank you enough. Seriously.

Go be awesome!