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The Networking Process


  • Assess your interests and skills and choose occupations, career areas, or organizations to investigate. Career counselors can help you with self-assessment process.
  • Read through all the information on the “Contacting Carleton Alumni” webpage. In all contacts with alums, pay particular attention to etiquette, including the following:
    • View an email as you would a cover letter; it’s a professional contact
    • Do your homework. Know something about the field or company so you can ask thoughtful questions.
    • Check spelling and grammar
    • Check alumni gender so you know whether to say Mr. or Ms.
    • Choose a professional tone rather than informality
    • Do not miss appointments or phone calls
    • Do not delay in returning calls or emails
    • Always follow-up to let the alum know what has happened as a result of your interactions with them
  • Find alums on the alumni directory by searching for the field you chose. Searches can be done by majors, company, career, geographic location, and graduation year. Try doing multiple searches to maximize your results.
  • Contact the alum to ask if she is willing to answer a few of your questions via e-mail or partake in a telephone informational interview.
    • Prepare for this opportunity by researching the field or organization and compiling a list of your questions.

If you are interested in a phone interview or in just asking a few questions by email, ask if this is okay and wait for a response.  A template email on an informational interview can be obtained by clicking on the "Contact Me" button on Alumni Profiles (search & click on any alum).

Remember, alumni are typically very busy with work and other obligations. Realize you may need to try more than once to contact them and that they may not respond at all. Allow a minimum of one week between your initial contact and a second attempt.

The subject line of your email should be similar to "Current Carleton student seeking career information." It is important to be concise yet complete in your email: many people automatically delete lengthy messages or those with suspicious subject headers. Tell the alum who you are, where you located her email address, and why you would like an informational interview. Proofread before sending.


  • If you and the alum decide to proceed with email, make sure you ask what you want to know but do not overwhelm your contact.
  • For phone interviews, be sure to call precisely at the agreed upon time and ask your relevant questions in an attentive, interested, and professional manner. Remember to verify time zones if contacting someone in a different time zone. Phone interviews typically last for 15-30 minutes.


  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview or reception of the answers to your e-mailed questions. U.S. mail or e-mail are both appropriate.
  • Follow up with your contact if she expressed interest in your search or asked to be kept informed of your career progress.
Career Center pages maintained by Andrea Kubinski
This page was last updated on 21 May 2019