Networking your way into companies you’re targeting in job search is the best way to land a great-fit job. To build your network, connect on LinkedIn with all kinds of people.
Get back in touch with those you’ve neglected – as so many of us do when we’re busy in our professional lives – and connect with new people, to expand your network.
This is what LinkedIn is all about.
But I often need to convince job seekers to keep building their LinkedIn networks, including reaching out to people they don’t know.
It’s okay, in fact it’s good, to have a high number of LinkedIn connections, and keep increasing them.
It just makes sense that the more people in your network, the more opportunities likely to come your way.
For years (maybe since the beginning), LinkedIn sent a conflicting message to members.
Although reaching 500 connections, and beyond, will make your profile land higher in search results for relevant keywords, LinkedIn frowned on connecting with people you don’t know.
Don’t “invite people you do not know to join your network.”
With their Plus One Pledge initiative that rolled out last year, LinkedIn actually encourages us to reach outside our networks.
Here’s how they describe the Pledge:
“It’s an intention to share your time, talent, or connections with people outside your network who may not have access to the same resources you do. By taking the Plus One Pledge, you’ll help others and strengthen your own network.”
Connect on LinkedIn with just about everyone you know, in both your professional and personal life. But don’t stop there. Some of the kinds of people to bring into your network include:
- Executive recruiters in your niche
- Hiring decision makers at your target companies
- Other employees at your target companies
- Employees at your current and previous companies
- Professionals in your industry
- Influencers in your industry
These people 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 people to want to connect on LinkedIn?
Crafting a LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone you don’t know 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” (or however the default reads right now). The recipient probably has no idea who you are. Your message and request may 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 on LinkedIn and (Possibly) Ask for a Favor
Here are my suggestion on crafting a LinkedIn invitation in 3 short paragraphs that will get action. These are based on a Forbes article by The Muse from several years ago, but the advice is still good.
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 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 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.”
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.
The fact that you’ve taken the time to compose a customized message will go a long way.