@cal Career Network - 3-2-1 Contact!

Tips for making contact with alumni. Two important considerations before your first communication with one of our valued Alum:

  1. Initial Mode of Contact the Alum has chosen: Each of the alumni in the network has designated whether he/she wants to be contacted by mail, phone and/or email.
  2. Location: Is this person somewhere nearby so that you can meet face-to-face or is he/she too far away for this to be possible? If he/she is too far away or is not able to meet in person, it can still be useful to talk on the phone or email each other.

These two considerations combine to give you several options for how you contact the person initially and what you suggest for further contact. For example, the alum you have selected may live in San Francisco and designated that he should be contacted by email. Therefore, you may email him to introduce yourself and to ask that you set up a time to meet briefly to discuss your interests in greater detail.

Regardless of what mode of communication you use and what your goals are, you should:

  • Rehearse before calling, or carefully proofread your email or letter before sending it to your contacts. No matter what form(s) of communication you use, you should explain how you got their names, and why you are contacting them. Always be courteous, positive, and business-like.
  • Be flexible and polite. Ask them if they would rather have the informational interview by phone or email, or if it would be possible to meet with them.
  • Keep in mind that while these alumni want to talk to you, they are often very busy. Call, write, or email them to ask when it would be convenient to contact them.
  • Be clear about your objective before you call or email your contacts and decide what you want to know before the interview. This will also help decrease your anxiety and increase your chances of getting the results you want.
  • Try to schedule a face-to-face meeting whenever possible to gain exposure to the work environment and culture.
  • Avoid listing all of your questions on your initial email if you are emailing your contacts. You should ask your contacts if they want you to email your questions or if they prefer a different form of communication.
  • Questions:  Prepare a list of questions before the informational interview. 
  • Send your contacts a thank you note after the informational interview.
  • Stay in touch with these alumni. They are now part of your professional network!

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