How to Connect on LinkedIn with Strangers . . . and Get Action

by Meg Guiseppi on July 16, 2014


Networking your way into companies you’re targeting in executive job search is the best way to land a great-fit job.

That means getting back in touch with those you’ve neglected – as so many of us do when we’re busy in our professional lives – and connecting with new people, to expand your network.

LinkedIn Invitation to Connect

LinkedIn is made for just that purpose.

Specifically, you need to bring the following into your LinkedIn network . . . and keep you and your personal brand top of mind with them:

  • Executive recruiters in your niche,
  • Hiring decision makers at your target companies, and
  • Other employees at your target companies.

These are people who can help you meet your career goals, but many of them may be strangers to you, or people you barely know.

How do you generate interest and compel them to want to help you?

Crafting a LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone you don’t know, when you’re asking for a favor, can be touchy. Approach someone in the wrong way, and it can ruin your chance of having the message read and responded to in the way you’d hoped.

Just as you wouldn’t rush up to a stranger at an in-person networking event and blurt out that you’d like to “pick their brain”, don’t rudely put yourself in front of a stranger on LinkedIn and expect them to do you a favor.

One turnoff is using only the default message “I’d like to add you to my professional network”. The recipient probably has no idea who you are and, unless they’re a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) who accepts most any invitation, your message and request will probably be ignored.

Another offense is sending a too-long message to them. The recipient could well be someone who receives dozens (if not more) of these invitations daily. Make it easy for them by keeping the message short and to the point . . . and give them a reason to WANT to connect with you.

Best Strategies to Connect and Ask a Favor on LinkedIn

Based on the excellent suggestions in a Forbes article by The Muse, here are my suggestion on crafting a LinkedIn invitation in 3 short paragraphs that will get action.

Be specific in your subject line.

Bad options are “Hello” or “Help” or leaving the subject line blank, which happens more than you might realize. Something like this is better:

“Following up from XYZ Event”, “Fellow PMP interested in Your Take on XYZ”, or “Interested in XYZ Job posted on Company Website”

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 and quick 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 VP of Marketing at XYZ 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 XYZ 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, tagline (if you have one), and your contact info.

Your third and final paragraph is where you add a call-to-action, 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.”

Write in grammatically-correct, typo-free, proper language.

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.

More About LinkedIn, Personal Branding and Executive Job Search:

LinkedIn, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search: Perfect Together

Personal Branding: How to Brand Your LinkedIn Summary Section

Keep Your Personal Brand Top-of-Mind with LinkedIn Updates

How to Use the New LinkedIn for Executive Personal Branding

How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Professional Headline SEO-Friendly

Your Personal Brand Online and the LinkedIn Privacy Dilemma

When Was the Last Time You Updated Your LinkedIn Profile?

photo by marina guimarães


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