Network More Effectively to Land the Job

This post, Network More Effectively to Land the Job, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Okay, I’ve got to admit this particular subject is one I am pretty passionate about. It’s one of my pet peeves… lazy networking.

I get so many correspondences from students that go something like this…

Dear Ms. Cottineau,

I heard you speak in my class and I am very interested in a career in branding. I was hoping we could have lunch and you could tell me about your background and your experience. Looking forward to hearing from you.”


Interested (but lazy) Student

What’s wrong with this approach? So many things:

  • It lacks specifics.
  • It lacks focus.
  • It shows a lack of commitment.
  • It also, frankly, is a bit lacking in respect for my time.

If you are really that interested in connecting with me here’s how you can let me know you really care: 1) do your homework, 2) show your commitment and, 3) make it easier for me to help you.

I am interested in helping – I took the time from my work schedule to come speak at your University and share my knowledge and experience with you. But in this kind of lazy networking email… you are making me do all the work.


Here’s a version that is more likely to get a response:

Dear Ms. Cottineau,

I was really inspired by the talk you gave in Professor X’s class last week. You might remember me, I was the student in the front row that raised my hand and asked you about X. After your lecture, I went on to the Virgin website to educate myself more about the 360-degree approach to branding that you shared with us. I found the recent campaign for Virgin America particularly impactful because of XYZ.

I also joined your mailing list, liked your Facebook page, and am now following your blog and re-tweeting your branding insights on Twitter. I did some research about you online and I am really fascinated by your background. Like you, I have the desire to work in Europe and I am also a big believer in lateral twists. In fact, I thought you might enjoy the attached article on inspiration from this month’s issue of Fast Company. Here is a link. I am not sure if you saw it, but if you find it interesting, perhaps you might enjoy sharing it with your Facebook or Twitter followers.

I am reaching out with a very specific request that I hope won’t take up much of your valuable time. I am a third year student looking for a summer internship at a mid-sized digital agency in NYC. I have narrowed my list to a top 5.  I was hoping I could get any perspective you might have on these agencies and ask if you have any contacts that you might be willing to forward my resume and cover letter to (See attached). I would also love to hear if you think I have left any agencies out of this top 5 list that you think should be there.

I’d love to get your feedback in whatever way is most convenient for you. Can we schedule a 15-minute chat next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 9am? If not, is there a more convenient time? My number is xxx. If it’s easier for you, I’d also appreciate any thoughts you have by email.

Thank you in advance for your inspiration. I am sure you must get hundreds of request like this a day. I assure you, I will pay your generosity forward some day.


Mr./Ms. Student More Likely to Get a Response

What’s smarter about this approach?

  • The student shows commitment by doing their homework.
  • They show loyalty and interest in helping me grow my brand.
  • Their request is specific and manageable.
  • The next steps are clear and easy for me to follow-up on.
Take the time to do your homework, and your request has a better chance of breaking through and getting answered. Make sense?
Want more answers? Just let us know your additional questions in the comments section below.
Check out the next post in our series: Land the Job: Bring Your Experience Off the Page!

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“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

Deliver Your Elevator Pitch with a Twist

You only get one chance to make a first impression, make sure you’re ready to seize your moment.

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand.

Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in the time it would take to travel 3 elevator flights, not 30 or even 10.

Learn more about honing your elevator pitch in the 8 tips here:

1. Pay attention to your audience, what motivates them? Your pitch can and should vary somewhat by audience, know what your “ask” is. Do you want an introduction to someone else, a purchase, an investment, coverage on a blog? Know this up front and make sure you ask for what you want by the close.

2. Talk about what your brand enables people to do – not just what you offer – an emotional promise fulfilled will create a loyal user.

3. Add something personal and memorable to your story – perhaps something visual – the best stories give specific details we can connect with.

4. Think about your story in terms of a headline and three supporting points – more than three is hard for your audience to remember.

5. Try out different versions on different people – see which ones get the lean forward effect, and which ones elicit a yawn or maybe a distracted eye roll.

6. Keep honing and editing – a story is never actually finished. New events happen that are significant and should be incorporated. Also updating stories keeps them fresh and interesting.

7. Have a short version, but be ready to follow up with more – think about your elevator ride for your elevator pitch. Make sure you have the two-floor version but also be prepared for the twenty-floor ride to the penthouse

8. Notice stories that move you and why. This could be a movie, things you read in the newspaper… Think about what elements of that story caught your attention and is there a parallel element that could help you tell your own brand story? I don’t mean copying the content, but maybe borrowing the technique.


Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand if you’re not already. And perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Now you can, with Brand School’s highly effective, premier branding program.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their knowledge to build your brand. We give you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next session of Brand School HERE.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah Weiss, Event Consulting