3 Easy Ways Email Can Jumpstart a Career

In addition to my usual career-related activities, I have been working overtime lately talking with friends, family members and colleagues who have recently lost their jobs or are concerned about where the job market and economy are going. I’ve decided to share some of the things I’m telling them with you, so that we can all join in on spreading good career karma.

We all love bitching about email, but when it comes to simple and free tools that can jumpstart a career, nothing beats it. Here’s three easy things you can do with email to help your career, or the career of someone you care about.

1. Write a referral email, or ask someone to write one for you.  

Is there anyone you’ve used recently hired for a service who did such a good job that you’d be thrilled to give a recommendation to friends or colleagues? If so, take a few minutes to write an email telling a few hand-selected contacts just how great the experience was. Here’s a sample: ”I’m writing to tell you about Marci Alboher, whom I recently hired to give a lecture at my organization’s annual retreat. She was, without question, the most inspiring speaker we have ever heard. I recommend her without hesitation. If you should ever have the need for a speaker, definitely consider hiring her.”

Include contact information or a website for the person you’re recommending, and tell your contacts to feel free to contact the person directly. While this approach can work for anyone looking for new opportunities, it is ideally suited for anyone in a client or service oriented field — lawyers, hair stylists, interior designers, personal trainers, massage therapists, lawyers, accountants, freelance writers/editors/web designers/graphic artists, etc.

Once you’ve composed the email, hand select contacts who might need the service or skill-set provided by the person you’re recommending. Go through your contact list alphabetically thinking carefully about the kind of people you include on your list.  Pay special attention to the connectors in your midst — those people who know a lot of other people and who will take the time to forward the email even if it isn’t of use to them personally. Finally, this only works if your praise is genuine. The goal is to help everyone in the loop — the person you’re recommending and the person who’s doing the hiring.

The next best thing? A recommendation on LinkedIn.

This obviously works both ways. Why not ask a few key clients or colleagues to write one of these for you? In fact, if you are in a client service business, you can make a habit of asking for such a referral at the close of every project. 

2. Forward the email.

This one is even easier. The next time you get an email asking if you know anyone looking for a dog-walker, estate-planning lawyer, website designer, carpenter etc., take several minutes to go through your contacts (just like in #1) and forward the email to a hand-selected group of people who might need the services of the sender. Before sending it off, add a personal note from you explaining how you know the person and why you’d recommend her. Again, only do this if you can genuinely recommend the person.

And again, this one goes both ways. Consider writing an email describing your services and availability and sending it to a few carefully selected contacts with a request to send it along to people in their network who might be interested in your talents. Make sure your note clearly describes what you do, includes your contact details (and a link to a website or online profile if you have one), and any other information that would help people evaluate you (testimonials, for example.)

3. Consider an email signature.

When I decided I wanted to privately coach writers, the first thing I did was add the words “writing coach” to my email signature. Immediately I started getting inquiries about my coaching services. It functioned like a free advertisement.

Have you found any other quick and easy ways to use email to help yourself or others get work? If so, share them in the comments.

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Filed under The Heymarci Blog, Uncategorized

6 Responses to “3 Easy Ways Email Can Jumpstart a Career”

  1. Shell Fischer Says:

    Thank you, Marci, what great advise! I’d already added my website and contact information to my signature, but never thought of adding Freelance Writer/Editor. Who knows?

    I also think it’s important to try to help each other out as much as possible these days, and will definitely go through my list and see what I can do.

  2. Clint S. Miller Says:

    I’m a ‘digital’ person. But hadn’t thought about using email to endorse someone. Good call! I am a huge advocate of introduction, and making contacts/introductions to person you know whom both have a need, but haven’t met each other yet. I will start using my email more effectively in the future.

    Best regards,

    Clint S. Miller
    govtcontractorjobs@gmail.com
    http://govtcontractorjobs.blogspot.com/

  3. Joe Fusco Says:

    Great points.

    I can’t help but feel lately, however, that with Facebook messaging, LinkedIn messaging, Twitter and other social media messaging, email is less and less “viral” for those seeking work.

    Of course, you want to cover all the bases, and email might still be king. But I get the sense that the higher return on investment of time and energy is — little by little — moving away from email.

  4. Sital Says:

    Marci,

    In the current market, there are plenty of people sending emails asking for things – contacts, leads, requests to forward their resume on. To stand out, you need to lead with generosity and helping the recipient of the email (instead of asking for something). Which will also create some good karma that has the help coming back to you! Here are a couple other ways to use email:

    1. Connect individuals in your network with each other via email because they would be useful contacts for each others careers

    It’s a selfless act which strengthens your relationship with your network, helps you stand out in people’s minds as a connector and very often results in contacts and opportunities coming back to you (but like a boomerang they often come from other sources – so don’t worry about that same person helping you)

    2. Forwarding articles, blogs, audio and video clips of something your friends and professional contacts would benefit from.

    But ensure the content is a) related to your area of expertise and profession and b) relevant to the individual you’re emailing.

    When you follow the above points genuinely and consistently (and have your signature at bottom of your emails as you suggest!) you draw in career opportunities and contacts like a magnet instead of having to chase for them

    Sital

  5. Sital Says:

    Oh – and here’s one more. A really important one:

    3. Use email to announce your job loss to everyone you know

    Many people hold back from telling people about a job loss. Maybe it’s out of embarrassment or possibly hurt pride. But their’s no need to be embarrassed. If you’ve been laid off, then you really need people’s help and support right now – both in dealing with a lay off and with finding new work.

    So send the email to EVERYONE you know. Family, friends, ex-colleagues, ex-clients, ex-suppliers, neighbours, ex-School friends – everyone. But remember you’re sending the email to inform these people about what is happening in your career and life – not to ask for anything.

    Keep the email short and simple – inform people of your job loss, give them your home email and mobile phone number. Maybe add a ‘it would be good to connect in the coming weeks whilst you have time on my hands’ type comment at the end.

    And that’s it.

    I can guarantee that it will result in a flurry of supportive emails. Some will result in requests for you to send a resume, some in phone calls and coffee’s to catch up with people, who like, know and trust you. In addition to making you feel really good about yourself, you’ll have subtly taken the first step in enrolling your network to assist you.

  6. MN Headhunter | Paul DeBettignies Says:

    Marci,

    A great post. Will be putting it on my blog links for the day and linking on Twitter.

    One idea to add if/when using an email signature, add your LinkedIn URL.

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