How to grow your network without being sleazy

Have you ever walked into a networking event and felt like you were swimming with sharks?

I’m talking about people who eye you up and down the minute you walk into the room, come over to introduce themselves, talk about their business for the entire duration of the conversation, and then walk away after handing you their business card?


This is why most people hate networking. However, you probably also heard about people who have used networking to land seemingly exclusive jobs and clients that average people can’t seem to land.

How do great networkers do it?

Meanwhile, you hear generic advice from your friends, family, and acquaintances like:

Go out and network!

Your network is your net worth.

It’s not what you know but who you know.

  • What do these phrases really mean?
  • What do I do once I get a meeting?
  • What kind of questions do I ask?

The first step to building long lasting relationships

You’ve probably heard of informational interviews but few of us take the time to reach out to people to ask for help.

Why is this? Let’s dig a little deeper.

  • It’s uncomfortable and what kinds of questions do you ask once you get a meeting?
  • You are shy.
  • Your internal dialogues telling you not to talk to people because you  have nothing to offer.

Instead of getting frustrated about how some people seem to get “lucky” in their careers, learn how the game is played and use it to your advantage.

An informational interview is a way for you to meet people you admire and could learn from. Maybe you’re curious about a particular industry and you’d like to know more. Informational interviews are extremely beneficial to you and the person you’re trying to meet. That’s why I call it a win win. You get to ask for career guidance and the other person gets to pay it forward.

Check out this actual word for word email script I used to secure an informational interview with someone I wanted to get to know better

Hi [person you want to meet],

My name is Michael and I’m a [your title and company or school], where I [your job responsibilities or major]. I found you through [let the person know how you found them].

I’m interested in working in a similar role in [location] and I like to see if there are any opportunities while I’m in town. I’ll be in [location] early January and was wondering — can I take you to coffee?

How does [time & dates] work? I’m free all day, especially the afternoon, and I can meet wherever is convenient for you.

Best regards,


Why did this email work for me?

  • I reached out with a brief and concise email.
  • I stated the purpose of the meeting.
  • I made it convenient for the person to meet (when you’re asking for people’s time and help always ask them to suggest a place to meet that’s convenient for them.)

Art of following up

Okay let’s assume that you’ve met reached out and met with the people you wanted to meet. What do you do next? I call this “The follow up” technique. This is an actual email script I used in my follow up.

Hey [VIP],
I finished a call with [VIP 2] and she encouraged me to apply to the [title] role as [ABC Company]. I’ll keep you updated periodically as I go through the process.
Thank you for the introduction. I really appreciate the help!
Why is this important?
VIPs want to know that the time the spent giving you advice was well spent and you took their advice and implemented it. This helps you display good social skills and you value their opinions and you’re a doer.

What NOT to do in an informational interview

  • Ask for a job. Do you ask someone to marry you on the first date? Of course not! Like first dates you’re getting to know the other person’s background and interests.
  • Listen and take notes. The point of an informational interview is to learn about the other person and execute on their advice. A good rule of thumb is to listen 80% of the time and talk for 20% of the time. Following up with people and letting them know how their advice made a difference in your life is worth more to them than money.

Do this starting this month

I want to challenge you to brainstorm five people you want to meet and reach out them. Don’t limit yourself to geography because most people can be reached by email or phone. Ask them if you can have no more then 10 to 20 minutes of their time for career related questions and why they’re the ideal person to answer your question. Do your research and homework first before reaching out.

Email me or leave a comment below and let me know about your small wins.

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