Tips for Connecting with Parents

Plan ahead:
Because parents know about Puget Sound and are connected to networks of professionals across the country, they are uniquely situated to help students with their career development and job/internship search process. Approach parents to learn about their career or organization—learn why they like what they do, what early jobs shaped their career path, and what advice they might offer you—think informational interview.  

Make the best impression possible:
Approach parents—or any professional networking situation—as a learning opportunity, not to ask for jobs and internships. And whether online or in person, maintain an air of professionalism—keep the conversation polite, positive, and pertinent. Jump down to see an example of an introductory message.

Be appreciative:
In all instances, promptly send a thank you to anyone who offers advice, tips, or connections. Consider reaching out after a month or two to thank them again for their help and to update them on your status:

"Two months ago you connected me with xxx. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I followed up with xxx and we had a great conversation about working in the medical field. I am now in the middle of my medical school applications and feel better prepared because of that conversation. Thank you so much for your help."

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Get connected through the Puget Sound Parents LinkedIn Group:
Develop a professional LinkedIn profile that accurately represents your background and interest. Review the CES LinkedIn tips to get started. Consider scheduling an appointment with a CES career advisor to review your current LinkedIn profile and/or discuss strategies for developing a professional profile.

Once you have a professional LinkedIn profile, join the Puget Sound Parents group. If you have a first- or second-degree connection with any of the parents (meaning you or somebody you know is connected to them), you will see their full name. If you do not have a previous connection, you will only see their last initial.

To see the complete list of members, look for the “members” tab across the top of the page. From this screen you will be able to view basic information the parents post about themselves, invite them to connect, or send them a message.

Navigating a "conversation" in public
Many conversations on LinkedIn happen in a public manner through a series of conversation threads. Remember, every interaction conveys information about you—your ability to communicate effectively, to be respectful and appreciative of parents’ time, to demonstrate your professionalism, and more…The following tips will help you make the most out of those conversations:

Make it easy for parents to respond quickly:
If posting a discussion item for the whole group to see, think about how to represent your question or topic in a succinct and professional manner that clearly states what you are seeking:

"I’m excited about an internship interview I have this week!" Readers are unlikely to know if they should give you a virtual high five or provide tips about an interview. Instead try "I have an initial interview with a media organization this week and am interested in tips on making the most out of a phone interview." 

Keep it positive:
Occasionally you may have experiences related to your job search that make you want to vent your frustrations somewhere. LinkedIn is not that place (nor is Facebook or any other online tool). Think about what you can learn from a negative experience and ask for advice. Consider the impression you can make with:

"I applied for a job with ABC organization and never heard back from them. The least they could do is send out a rejection letter." VS "I applied for a job with ABC organization. It has been one month since I submitted my resume and I haven’t heard anything. Any advice about an appropriate follow-up to inquire about my candidacy?"

Be timely in your acknowledgement and transition to private messaging:
Nobody wants to read about all the details of your job search. Once somebody responds to you with an offer of help or advice, transition to private messaging to continue the conversation. See below for tips on private messaging.

Be specific in your request for information:
Avoid blanket statements like "confused college junior exploring career options" and instead opt for something that provides more context: “Puget Sound junior with an interest in technology—specifically  technology consulting—looking for tips on building experience and resources for exploring career options within this field.”

Be aware:
Every interaction you make online makes a tiny imprint in the Internet universe. You are leaving a trail, so make it a good one. Think about how you represent yourself and focus on being positive, professional, and appreciative.

Private conversations using LinkedIn's messaging function or when reaching out via email
Of course, not all conversations will happen via public thread. Students can send messages to parents through the LinkedIn message function. From the Puget Sound Parents group main page, look for the “members” tab to view all members. From this screen, search for the parent name whom you wish to contact and click “search.” From the results screen, you will be able to view basic information the parents post about themselves and invite them to connect or send them a message.

Keep in mind that people respond far better to messages that are courteous, well-written, and error-free:

Sample written introduction

Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. _____:

First paragraph: Identify yourself and briefly explain why you chose to contact this individual (because of their specific occupation, graduate program, employer, field/industry, etc.) and what your purpose is for contacting them (exploring jobs/internships, researching their employer, considering moving to their geographic region, etc.)

I am a University of Puget Sound sophomore majoring in philosophy. I found your name in the University of Puget Sound Parents Network and see that you work for Arm & Schiff Law Offices. As a student who is considering law as a potential career option, I wanted to reach out to see if you had any advice on making the most of my undergraduate experience.

Second paragraph: What do you want/need? Briefly summarize your specific reason for connecting.

I recently took a business law class which sparked my interest in law. I hope to arrange a 15 minute phone conversation with you to ask you about your experience in law school, law specialty, and strategies for seeking a summer internship to test out this field. If you prefer to communicate via email, may I send you a list of 3-5 questions?

Third paragraph: Express your appreciation.

I look forward to the possibility of connecting with you to learn more about your career path and current role. Thank you for your time.

Salutation:

Sincerely,

Lisa Howarth

This author wrote a clear, succinct message outlining a reasonable request. She states the amount of time the interaction would take and provides a suitable alternative should a phone call not be convenient. If the parent and student reside in the same city, an alternate request could involve a face-to-face meeting or invitation to coffee.

Don’t forget! You can also connect with Puget Sound alumni through the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network! CES has developed a resource for connecting with Puget Sound alumni which provides additional tips, strategies for outreach, and sample scripts for professional networking communications.