5 Ways Students Can Stand Out When Staying in Touch with Professional Contacts
Last Fall I went on a speaking tour with Target and visited 12 colleges and spoke about internships, career advice, and provided information about the leadership opportunities for young people at Target. At every speaking engagement, I give out my personal email (crazy, I know) and I encourage students to stay in touch. You can imagine how many emails I still have to answer in my inbox! When I’m always getting so many emails that say a bunch of the same (nice meeting you, etc), I always look for unique things students say that really standout. Now, a few of these are random, really specific to their unique circumstance, and out-of-the-box but I thought they might get your creative juices flowing.
1. Unique Gift. One student emailed me to say she loved my presentation and she wanted to stay in touch. She told me that to show her thanks she wanted to send me a wreath because her family owns and operates a tree farm and they make custom wreaths! Now, please don’t interpret this as ‘you have to get people gifts’ – you don’t. But I’m still talking about this so it clearly stood out.
2. Thank-You Note. In my speech, I stress the importance of hand-written thank-you notes after a job interview and before the end of an internship. I had one student follow up with me and ask me for a company mailing address so she could send a hand-written thank-you note. The more impressive part? She actually sent it! I got it yesterday ☺
3. Reference Something Memorable. At one speaking engagement (I believe at UMD), there was a student who came up to speak with me at the end and I told her I loved her sweater. When she emailed me to follow up, she reminded me that she was the girl whose sweater I liked. Even more than that, she sent me a link to the Forever21 website where she bought the sweater. It was a link directly to it. I thought that was really fun and different. And again, I’m still talking about it!
4. Followed My Company. I met a student at Chapman (well, I met over 100 students at Chapman) recently. She followed up via email after my presentation to thank me. In addition, she emailed me when our Youtube Channel launched to provide valuable feedback and tell me what she really enjoyed about it. Not only did this make me (the professional contact) feel special, but it also put her name at the top of my inbox (yet again). This helps me keep her top of mind for opportunities.
5. Took My Advice AND Followed Up About It. I get so many emails from students who ask about applying for internships. I will point out a few internships on my site that they should apply for. They say thank you but never apply. I end up following up with them (it should work the other way around) and they never end up applying. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when a student actually takes my advice, applies for the internship, and then lets me know they applied. They allow me to help them.
For more advice and information on internships read my book All Work No Pay.
Photo by Anna McNaught.