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What to say when reaching out connections on Linkedin?

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTION!
Context:
I came across a job posting in "X" department I'd like to apply and I know someone who works at that company in "Y" department. I understand that X & Y departments work closely together.

I want to gain more insights about the role / company culture / & advice for interview preparation.

I wonder how to start the conversation (straightforward yet polite) because I haven't connected with him for months.

TIPS?

#strategy #networking
#career
#jobapplications
#linkedin
#careercoaching
#technology
#employer
#interview

Thank you so much !


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12 answers


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John’s Answer

Half or more of all jobs come through word of mouth with your connections – friends, families, and colleagues, according to a large body of academic research. Where else can you immediately reach hundreds of people in mere seconds? Social media, of course. In fact, 60% of employers cite LinkedIn’s networking abilities as important. Job seekers can use this pool of connections two ways: first, to land the interview. When you ask your network for possible leads, chances are they will consult their own network as well, dramatically increasing the reach of your request for job opportunities. Second, when you tap into your network for jobs, make sure to treat each and every LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter connection as a possible client, colleague, or manager. You don’t want to raise any concerns before you even start a job. Get social. It is called social media, after all. The great thing about social media is that you don’t have to wait for an assistant or secretary to pass along your fourth message. “We are all familiar with black hole of applying for a job and then never hearing back.” When you’re ready to apply to a company, you don’t have to spend hours reading its website — follow and connect with you friend, this is where you’ll gain all up-to-date knowledge about the company and its mission and products it’s launching. This type of knowledge is priceless, it takes time to learn the essence of a brand—which translates to authenticity when it comes time to land an interview.

DON’T FOGET YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Social networking is also very important with regard to your reputation as a potential candidate for companies. Most companies now do go through their applicants’ social profile where possible. How you present yourself to the world, the attitudes you show, the style of communication, the kind of matter you post, may significantly influence how a potential recruiter views you. So manage your social media profile carefully. Refrain from what can be considered to be as “negative behaviour” which will lower your suitability chances. It's very important to consider your online presence, as more and more employers have been expanding their hiring procedures to incorporate social networking sites. Hiring managers and recruiters use social media to source candidates, to post jobs, and to accept job applications. Social media job searching sites can help hiring managers to get a more clear sense of their potential employees and their backgrounds before they have even interacted. Social media makes it easy for recruiters to understand you better; your likes, dislikes, and how you might fit within the company.

Networking isn’t about being in a secret club, and it’s not just for business professionals. It is for all professionals. Social workers are great at building relationships and trust with their clients. Networking really isn’t that different. It is about nurturing relationships over time, gathering information, and expanding your knowledge about career opportunities. Networking is not about using people to help you find your next job. It is a two-way street and should be an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship.

Hope This was Helpful

OMG Thank you John! It's a wealth of insights and details regarding the power of social networking! C L.

Your Welcome CL, It was my Pleasure. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. John Frick

Thank You Athanasios. “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington John Frick

Thank You Kate. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick

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Lisa’s Answer

It's OK that you haven't connected in months. Begin with LinkedIn communication. If you just found out that he/she works there, easy in. " Oh my gosh, I was researching ABC company and just learned you already work there! How are you? How do you like the your job?" Preliminary engagement. Trying to get a response. If contact answers, then:

OR, Hi Mary, how are your? I know we haven't connected in a while, but I wondered if you would have a few minutes for me. I am very interested in applying to a position in department in your company. Would you have a few minutes to speak? I'd love to pick your brain and get your impressions about the company.

Don't ask give away your questions or name of job or position yet. Just ask if he/she could speak to you offline for a few minutes. Maybe at lunch, or meet for a coffee, or even after work.

Doe this help?

That's exactly what I need! Thank you again Lisa! I really appreciate your help! :)) C L.

Good CL. Feel free to fill me in on how it goes, if you need advice for next steps. Lisa Mark, MA

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Holly’s Answer

I'm answering this question from the perspective from someone who is frequently approached by connections (ie. Facebook, LinkedIn) that I haven't spoken to in a while.

I think your approach depends on the type of relationship you have (or had) with this person.

If you worked with this person in the past, I think it's appropriate to reach out to check in with how their doing and the opportunity you're looking at in their company. The relationship you have was established around a professional context, so in this setting it's appropriate.

If you knew this person on a personal level, my answer is different.

I feel turned off when someone reaches out from ages ago with the clear cut intention of getting job referral. I feel like that's pretty transactional. Others are different, where they are pretty liberal with referrals because they get a bonus. Perhaps it's a difference of what goals their company has (ie. hyper growth mode vs. big competitive company). Personally I've worked for the latter and so just from my experience, I'm pretty conservative about referrals because I know the candidate pool is competitive and I feel like my advocacy has a stake on my professional reputation.

If the person at "Y" department is someone you know on a personal level, I would echo the above responses and start with a friendly check in without mentioning the job you're after. Casually mention you're looking at working for "X" for their company but definitely let them take the initiative offer to refer or recommend you (if they feel comfortable doing so). But avoid "coming out of the gates" hot asking for their help if you haven't been in touch with them for so long.


Very insightful! Thank you so much Holly for sharing your perspective! :)) C L.

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Julia’s Answer

Dear CL, - here is a suggestion on writing a LinkedIn invitation in 3 short paragraphs that will get action.

Paragraph 1 – Start the message by telling them who you are.
In one to two sentences, your first paragraph should briefly describe who you are. Assume the recipient won’t know you at all, or may not remember you, if they have met you. Don’t assume that people will automatically jump to your profile to find out about you. Make it easy for them. Include any names of mutual contact(s) or mutual LI Groups, tell them if you’ve worked for the same company, etc.
It may read something like:
“I’m a business analyst at ABC company in [location]. I learned a great deal from your recent article in [publication].”

Paragraph 2 – Quickly get to why you’re writing.
If appropriate, your second paragraph may read something like:
“I’m reaching out to you for some expert advice. I’m beginning a job search in the ABC sector, and feel my expertise will greatly benefit [their company]. I have a few quick questions regarding [advice you need].”
If you’re writing to merely connect with them, say more than “I’d like to connect with you”. Tell them why it would benefit them to connect with you.

Paragraph 3 – Wrap it up briefly.
Close briefly, say thank you, and add your name and tagline (if you have one). Your third and final paragraph is where you add a call-to-action (if applicable), such as:
“Would you have a few moments in the near future to [whatever your request is]? Thank you for your time. I appreciate your consideration and hope you’ll also connect with me on LinkedIn.”

Don’t use texting shortcuts or other abbreviations. Compose the message in a Word document so you can use Spell Check, then re-read it again yourself for errors before sending.

So, stick to no more than 3 short paragraphs, of no more than about 2-3 lines each. The fact that you’ve taken the time to compose a customized message will go a long way.

OMG ! This is awesome! Thank you Julia C L.

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Katie’s Answer

Leveraging your connections on LinkedIn is what the tool is all about in my opinion so definately don't be shy to reach out to yours. Depending on the relationship with the connection I would approach it in a few different ways:

If you were close enough or worked closely together in the past, that's perfect! Why not ask if they can spare 30 minutes for a coffee or a phone call where you could ask questions about the culture, key company goals/initatives etc to ensure it is the right match for you? Better yet, maybe your connection has insights into the role your applying for and might even be a good advocate for you. Make sure you prepare in advance for the call or meeting with your connection so you're asking all the questions you want to ask and being respectful of their time. People generally love to help/give and advice if they know it's appreciated too so a thank you note goes a long way post meeting!

If you were not that close with your connection in the past, then asking for time with them might be a little bit more challenging. I would instead focus on a well worded message asking just some of the key questions you'd want to know, for example, "what's the culture like where you work?"

Good luck and I hope you get the opportunity you are looking for :)

Thank you Katie! I appreciate your time in answering my question! C L.

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Catherine’s Answer

Hi CL,

There are some great responses to this question and it's an important one! LinkedIn is a great tool for networking, especially in these times were you cannot network in person.

That being said, I think it is acceptable to reach out to connections you may not have interacted with before as long as you do so in a professional manner. Avoid sounding like a 'spam' message and add a personal touch to your message. My suggestion would be to review your connection's profile so you can tell them why you value their input or advice.

Be ready to continue talking with your connection, either through messaging or phone call. For the connection to truly blossom into something beneficial for you, you need to be ready to put in the work to make the connection stronger. Be appreciative of their time and accommodate whichever method they choose to get in touch with you as best as possible.

Also understand that even if they cannot help you in the short term, they may think of you when an opportunity comes along in the future. Always keep the door open for future conversations!

There is nothing wrong with being proactive and making things happen for yourself - just be aware of which connections are open to networking with you and respectful of their willingness to help!

Thank you Catherine for taking the time to answer my question! :)) All the best and take care! C L.

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Cara’s Answer

What you have already written is great! I just add some sort of connection based on both of your profiles? Did you both go to the same school or are from the same city? People tend to respond more to LinkedIn messages when they know there's a commonality.

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Lisa’s Answer

Great thinking CL,
The fact that you know someone at the company you're interested in is a leg up. Connect with that person on LinkedIn, try to set up a phone call. Tell your contact about the job you're interested in. Ask if they know anything about the group, the boss, or have any friends in the dept. that you might be able to connect with.

Lisa recommends the following next steps:

Once in contact with a colleage from that department, see pick their brain for the most important skills/experience the hiring manager might look for.
Be sure to include relevant info in your cover letter and resume. Don't take too long doing this. It is a competitive world and you need to apply ASAP.

Thank you Lisa for providing me the actionable next steps! C L.

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Anthony’s Answer

Hello C L, I am happy to help answer your question!

LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool is used correctly, and can help you tremendously when it comes to the job search. I have been in a similar situation as you before, so hopefully my advice can be applicable.

If you come across a job of interest, and have a connection at the company, I would initially reach back out to the person just to check in and catch up with them. Especially if you haven't spoken to them in a long time, you don't want your first question to be in reference to the job. This will only come off as you are using them to get what you want. Therefore, reach out to them and ask how they have been doing or how their family is. If you know the person really well and know an interesting fact about them, such as their favorite sports team or something like that, make sure to bring that up to continue the conversation forward and prove to them that you care about the connection enough to remember that information. Eventually, as all conversations naturally trend this way, the person will ask what you have been up to, and this presents the most appropriate opportunity to bring up the job. Make sure to tell them what you have been doing, but mention that you came across a job opportunity at their company that you would be interested in applying to. Try to ask them about their time working at the company, and see if they know anything about the job, such as its responsibilities. Try to continue the conversation from an information-gathering perspective, and allow them to bring up the idea of using them as a reference if you apply. You can also ask them if they would be comfortable with doing this, but you don't want that to be the first and only message you send to them.

With all that being said, the better form of advice I can offer is to make an effort to stay in consistent contact with your connections, so that when a situation like this comes up, they don't feel like you are hitting them up out of the blue to ask them for something. Instead, reach out to them around the holidays to wish them well, or share stories or news articles that are related to their field to show that you are interested in staying connected. Occasionally, by staying in contact with them, the person will have you in mind, so when positions get posted at their company or at another company, they will send over the job posting to you. This doesn't happen all the time, but can be possible if you are willing and able to make an effort to build the relationship.

The last piece of advice I have is that if the connection is willing to pass along your resume, or serve as a reference on your application, send them a handwritten note. Thank them for their willingness to help you pursue the job opportunity and for taking the time to serve as a reference. Make sure it is handwritten to show them that you care and to make it more personal. This can go a long way in continuing to grow the connection.

Thank you Anthony for taking the time to answer my question and providing me with great advice!! I appreciate it! C L.

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Rashmi’s Answer

Take a simple and straightforward approach. It is important to be friendly, direct and to the point. Explain who you are, why you are interested in making the person's acquaintance and what is it you are hoping to achieve by connecting.

1. Don't be scared. It may feel weird messaging a person you haven't spoken to in a while or at all, especially when you want to work at the same company.
2.Make it Personal: Sending a LinkedIn invitation without adding a note to the connection request is a big NO.
3.Express enthusiasm for the opportunity you're writing about, just as you would in person.
4.Update your profile.
5.Follow-up all accepted connections with a short “thank you” message

Thank you. :-)

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Chris’s Answer

CL - I think you should be direct with your LinkedIn connection about what you are contacting them for. For example, "I am interested in a role at your company in the "X" department and was hoping to chat with you about some of the company dynamics like culture, management styles, etc. I know you have been with them for a while and as someone I trust, I would love to use you as a resource for the internal dynamics."

Hope this helps.

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Rashmi’s Answer

Take a simple and straightforward approach. It is important to be friendly, direct and to the point. Explain who you are, why you are interested in making the person's acquaintance and what is it you are hoping to achieve by connecting.

1. Don't be scared. It may feel weird messaging a person you haven't spoken to in a while or at all, especially when you want to work at the same company.
2.Make it Personal: Sending a LinkedIn invitation without adding a note to the connection request is a big NO.
3.Express enthusiasm for the opportunity you're writing about, just as you would in person.
4.Update your profile.
5.Follow-up all accepted connections with a short “thank you” message

Thank you. :-)

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