4 Essentials For Networking With Strangers On LinkedIn

Last week, I received an info interview request from a total stranger as a direct message on LinkedIn. And despite my very busy schedule, I decided to take his call. Over the weekend, I asked myself, “Why did I agree?” Let’s take his e-mail apart and put it into four essential elements so you can use them in your own LinkedIn networking communications. Networking with strangers on LinkedIn can give you great results if you're deliberate in the process. First, here’s the e-mail I got over LinkedIn from J.:


Hi Joshua,   I noticed we are both connected to M. F. – how do you know M.? I first met her at J.P., and she actually photographed my wedding. Small world.   I wanted to touch base with you because I saw an open position at J.R. I thought would be a great fit for me. I’m located in Portland now, and do social media strategy for a digital marketing agency here in town.   It’s a fun role, but you know how agencies are – fingers in a lot of different businesses, but no ability to truly own a marketing program. It looks like I would be able to do that with the Marketing Communications Manager role that is posted.   Would you mind if I called you some time this week to hear about your experience at J.R. and your perspective on the marketing organization there? I’d really appreciate it.

1. Lead With Something In Common

My interviewee, J., began his e-mail by pointing out our mutual friend M.F., and although I know M.F. from my sister’s college days, what really got my attention was M.F. was the photographer at her wedding. Now, with LinkedIn, there is a danger the first degree connection isn’t really a close friend. I went through an Open Networking phase and about 100 people in my LinkedIn network are complete strangers to me. So don’t assume just because they’re connected, they know each other. J. took a calculated risk. However, he mitigates that risk by further sharing a personal tid-bit…he’s married. And as another recently married guy, I can very much relate to his situation. (i.e. He has my sympathy.)

2. Get To The Point - Fast

J. wastes no time for BS or apologies. He’s writing to me because he saw an open position at a company I have a relationship with and thinks he’d be a fit. Notice he says, “I saw an open position.” He doesn’t assume I know anything about this position. In fact, it was news to me. And so I can infer he’s not assuming I’m any kind of decision maker. I know this is going to be a purely informational interview. Furthermore, he concludes the e-mail by re-affirming that he’s just looking to hear about my experience with J.R., the company and my perspective on their marketing organization. My guard goes down because I know he’s not going to put me on the spot or ask me for more than just my opinion.

3. What Makes Him Qualified?

Without bragging, J. makes it clear that he’s a serious candidate, not one of those job fisherman. He tells me he already works at an agency. And that even though he enjoys the agency, he’s looking for more. He wants to “truly own a marketing program.” It might occur to me, after all, that if he already has a job, why is he looking to make a change? That concern is assuaged.

4. What Do You Want From Me?

He concludes his e-mail with, “Would you mind if I called you sometime this week...” meaning, I won’t have to do anything except wait for a phone call and talk to him. Sounds easy. I would have even mentioned the exact amount of time such a conversation would have taken, “Would you mind if I called you this week for just 10 or 15 minutes?”

Other Observations

You may have also noticed...
  • The e-mail was VERY short. It took me less than 30 seconds to read it.
  • He named the position he was after by name, he did his research and I know he won’t waste my time
  • He is sensitive to and grateful for my time, “I would really appreciate it...”
The next time you are reaching out to someone new over LinkedIn, consider bringing in one or more of these elements to your message. I’m sure it will make a big difference in your response rate. Any successful messages on LinkedIn? Share them with us in the comments section below so we can learn from your brilliance! Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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