While it’s not so difficult to add a connection on LinkedIn when you already know the person, approaching someone you don’t know, like a hiring manager, recruiter, the head of the department you want to work for, or a contact that can help get you through to the decision maker is a different story.
Here are tips on how to approach people you don’t know, or don’t know very well, and what you can say to get them to connect with you on LinkedIn:
1. Have a reason to connect.
Don’t send a blank invitation to connect. It’s unlikely that they will accept it. If it’s a hiring manager who interviewed you, but you didn’t get the job, it may still be a relationship worth maintaining. Your message could say, “Thank you for the interview opportunity. I would love to be considered for future positions that come up and have you as a professional connection no matter where we may possibly cross paths again.” The act of simply taking time to write a personal message with your invitation makes you worthy of consideration.
2. Share what you have in common.
Find ways to form common ground before sending out the connection request or Inmail. For example, when you’re both a member of the same group, it’s easier to approach the individual. People also want to know or be reminded how you know them or found them. So you can say something like, “I’m also a member of XYZ on LinkedIn. I noticed you’re the head of the Marketing department at 123 Company, and I was hoping you could share some advice to how you got started in your career because I’m looking to pursue a similar path.” This approach is less likely to come off like a cold-call. If there are other things you have in common, like a similar education or background, share that as well.
3. Mention a mutual acquaintance.
Whenever possible, it’s easier to start an introduction with the help of a mutual acquaintance. After the help of an introduction, it’s up to you to build rapport. If it’s with a contact for a company you want to work for, you may consider a message like, “I’m a former colleague of John Smith, who you know. I’m considering a position at 123 Company. Would you mind if I ask you some questions related to your experience with the application and interview process?”
4. Don’t ask for a job on first contact.
Avoid sending your resume on first contact. Initial contact should focus on starting a conversation, and you can best do that by asking for general advice rather than requesting for a job. Also remember to keep questions open-ended so you can build conversation, not end it.
5. Congratulate and give recognition.
Who doesn’t like to be greeted with a nice word of recognition like “Congratulations on the recent award for….” or “Great article published in….” It informs the individual you admire their work, making it easier to get their attention and find reason to connect with you.
Having a good network of connections is NOT about quantity, but the quality of the people and the strength of the relationships. Take the time to really evaluate who is worth connecting with, and when you do try, have a compelling reasons to why you want to connect with them so they will consider your request.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
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