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Connecting On LinkedIn

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One of the best uses of LinkedIn is for exploring careers. It’s actually pretty simple: you use your LinkedIn contacts to find people working in careers that interest you. Then you contact them and request a career chat — also known as an informational interview — to learn more about their job, their career path, and what advice they might have for you. Use the “Connect” feature to request an informational interview. Reaching out to a stranger can sometimes feel daunting, so here are five tips for writing a good “connect” email:

  1. Include your photo People respond more readily to a smiling face than compared to a bunch of words, so be sure you have a photo on your profile – a smiling headshot containing no other people.
  2. Keep it brief Be to the point with the message. Someone who receives a short, tailored message is more likely to respond – plus, a LinkedIn invitation has a 300-character limit!
  3. State connection first By mentioning your connection first, it gives the recipient a reason to care. It will maximize your chances of getting your message read.
  4. Tell them why you’d like to connect Be specific about why you’d like to connect so they don’t think you are out just trying to add connections. However, don’t ask for a job specifically — you may scare off your contact, who may have nothing to do with hiring. Instead, if you ask to discuss the company, the industry itself or your contact’s career path and current position, it feels more like a request for a conversation, not a job interview.
  5. Maintain control of follow-up This helps close the gap of time it may take to get back to you. For example, close your email by stating you understand they may have a busy schedule and if they are do not reply to your email, you will follow up in a week; this provides the opportunity to contact them again — just make sure that you do!

Example of the Five-Point Email


Email Subject: University of Saint Katherine student seeks your advice

Dear Sam,

I am a University of Saint Katherine junior and saw your profile in the LinkedIn Alumni pages. May I have 20 minutes to ask you about your experience with IBM? I am exploring marketing careers in technology companies, and your insights would be very helpful. I know you may be busy, so will try you again next week if we are unable to connect this week.

Thank you,