Reach out to someone on LinkedIn? Sounds difficult and scary. But it’s not. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere you want to work, or to make a contact at a company you’re interested in. Plus, it’s also just a good skill to have—who knows when you might need it again? But how do you start a conversation with someone you don’t know? And how do you build up the courage to reach out? We got you! We’ve broken down some of the basics of how to approach someone on LinkedIn, including what you should do before messaging them and some examples of how to start your message. Most importantly, we’ve also included the types of messages you should absolutely avoid sending.
So, when are you going for that dream job?
Step 1: Optimise your LinkedIn profile
The first step is to make sure your own profile is up-to-date. Make sure you have your most recent work experience listed on your profile and that your skills are up-to-date. If you don't have a professional photo or headshot, consider adding one—you want to look like someone people would trust representing the company. Then LinkedIn will help you add the rest and important sections. For example, your education like your postgraduate and your masters. Your volunteering experience is very important as well. And showcases many of the soft skills you might have listed. Your certifications and any recognitions or awards you have acquired. Finally, in order to stand out from other profiles and also have a prestige profile then gather some recommendations from people you have worked with. You can also do the same for them. And ask them to endorse the skills that are your strong ones and most relevant to the job you are looking for.
Step 2: Start looking for jobs (start with a manual approach)
Once you've perfected your profile, it's time to start looking for jobs! It’s easy to search for jobs on LinkedIn by keyword, the title of the job description, preferred location, and more from the other section. You can also save searches so that you receive email notifications when new jobs are posted that match your criteria. The more specific your search terms (for example: “content writer” instead of just “writer”), the more relevant the results will be for you. This is perfect when you are sure about your target goal. Though you can search for more vague terms and shortlist your desired ones later.
Once you've found a job you like, it's time to reach out! First, check if any of your existing contacts work at that company—it's a good way to get an introduction from someone they know.
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Step 3: Create a template for cold messaging approach
As we are all bombarded by digital messages, you need to distinguish yourself and try to get your message noticed and answered. As we said, you have to choose someone carefully in order to increase your chances. If you haven't heard of elevator pitch, this is a good time to prepare yours. Practice in 5 sentences max to sell your unique value proposition and why you are special. These need to be reflected in your LinkedIn profile. From the moment that you will be sending your messages through LinkedIn everyone will mechanically scan your profile.
Your template needs to be personalised of course (forget about the generic approach for a while. Start with fully personalised messages), every time you send messages to the person that is targeted. Search for their background, their recent work history and what are their interests through the activity section. It will brief you on their personality and what would make them "listen" to what you have to tell them. It's common sense that you need to follow or connect with them on LinkedIn and do the same for the company. You can engage in some of their posts and also join the groups they are members of. When you will gather all this information, start creating a template with the things you want to include. The things that are relevant with the job and the key phrases that will catch their attention!
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Step 4: How to start a conversation
If you had two messages in your LinkedIn DMs which one would you answer without really thinking of it? To the one that asks for a job request or to the one that asks for your advice and tips? Well, most of us would answer at least faster and without a lot of hesitation to the second one.
In order to break the ice between you and a stranger is better to ask for his/her advice or tips for a job position, for the company or generally for the labor market. When they will reply to your message, magically the sentences will be much easier to flow in your head and direct the conversation to the job request you have. Another good tip is to ask them if they would like any help from you. This makes the conversation warmer and is good for long-term situations. They might return to you if they do have something you can help them at!
Step 5: Examples of cold messaging approach on Linkedin
- A sample message for someone you don't know at all: Hello [name], I noticed that you are a fellow alumnus of [the school or university name], and I was wondering if you could give me some advice or any tip as an act of kindness. I am [name] and I am [job title or actively searching for a new job position] with experience in [...], education upon [...] and skills like [...]. I have created these projects [...]. I would like to focus mostly on [...] in my next career steps and this is how I ended up messaging you. I have heard from friends and fellow colleagues that your company/organisation, is actually focusing on these kind of projects and I was wondering if this period of time you are in search of possible candidates. I would like to ask you if based on what I wrote and from my LinkedIn profile I would be a good fit in your team. I can provide any other document, information or contact you want. Thanks in advance!
- One of your contacts knows or has worked at your desired company: Hello [name], I was wondering if you could give me some advice or any tip as an act of kindness. I have seen that you have worked at [...], which is a great place to work based on my research. And I noticed that you know some people there. I would love to have your opinion and I was wondering if you describe to me the company, and what it is like to work there? In advance, could I mention your name in reaching out to your contacts there in order to get more information? I am available if you want to learn something more about me, extra to my profile on LinkedIn as I would really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance!
- You don't the person that previously was an employee in your desired company: In this case you need to build rapport and create invocation of emotion. Hi [name], I noticed that you are a fellow alumnus of [the school or university name]. I was wondering if you could give me some advice or any tip as an act of kindness. I am targeting job positions at [company name] and, as I can see you were working there, I have the hope that you could tell me some information about the working culture and what your experience was like. I only need these details and I am available if you want to learn something more about me, extra to my profile on LinkedIn as I would really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance!
Step 6: Bad case practices to avoid when you approach people
A few of the things to avoid: In cold messages are attachments / files / links. If you want to get more answers, you only need to keep the first outreach text. If you try to do everything in your first approach you will not get a lot of replies
When you send a message on LinkedIn, the recipient first sees the bottom of the message when you open it. They don't want the first thing they see to be a large PDF or Word document, or a huge paragraph with two or three links.
Imagine receiving this if you haven't talked to anyone before. It's too aggressive to start a conversation with the wrong foot. If someone attaches a resume and asks, "Look at my resume and tell me what to improve," it’s less likely to get a response.
The main takeaway is that people are looking on LinkedIn for jobs to apply to and a large majority of them will not respond when cold approached. You have to research your target and look at their profile. Then, pick something you both have in common (what's also known as a Connection Segment) and build from there, or ask them out of the blue what they've been up to lately, or how business is going if you don't know the person. When you approach someone on LinkedIn for a job remember that their time is valuable and you need to showcase the reason why they should trust you and move forward with you (since there are hundreds of other people that could already approaching them)
Good luck with this endeavor!