If you’ve been looking for a job, chances are you’ve heard the infamous statistic that something like 70-80% of all jobs are gained through networking. As a job seeker, that can be a scary number, especially for introverts. In a perfect world, you know someone who can connect you to someone at that dream company in what we’d call a “warm handshake.” However, what do you do when you don’t have a connection? That’s where LinkedIn can come in handy. LinkedIn connection requests are one of the best tools to help you network virtually. Here’s how to send connection requests that will be accepted.
LinkedIn Connection requests
Some days I get upwards of 20 LinkedIn connection requests, and I don’t accept all of them. 99% of the time, I will decline these requests if it appears that the person is trying to sell me something (I’m looking at you, Financial Planners). Connection requests are relatively low effort to send to people, and, unlike some, I’m not a fan of collecting connections on LinkedIn. Initially, I took the approach that I’d only connect with people I’d worked with or encountered in my daily life. I’ve backed off that perspective a bit, and I’ve made meaningful connections with people I haven’t met in person. So, when I receive a connection request, here’s what I look for:
- Do I know this person? If so, this is an easy yes!
- Is there something in common with this person? Maybe we’ve worked together in the past or been affiliated with the same organization.
- Is this person in a similar industry/profession as I am? I see this as a potential networking opportunity and sharing best practices.
- Can I help this person? The best way I can identify if I can help a connection is if there’s a personal message included in the connection request.
Who to connect with
When you are looking for a new connection on LinkedIn, be intentional about who you are connecting with. Like the list above, you’re more likely to get requests accepted by people you know or when you have something in common, like a group or previous organization. Additionally, look at connecting with hiring managers or recruiters in the organization. While it might be nice to connect with the CEO or other C-suite leaders, unless you’re targeting positions reporting to them directly, they’re less likely to have the time for informational interviews and the time to build a relationship. Regardless of who you choose to send a connection request to, you’re going to have much more success if you personalize it.
Writing a LinkedIn Connection Request
When you’re reaching out to connect with someone on Linkedin, the best approach is to be clear about your motives. A personalized message will go a long way in helping them decide if they want to accept the request, and it’s pretty easy to do. Here are a few templates that you can customize:
Informational interview: Company
Hi “name,” I have been following “Company,” and I’m interested in learning more about “what.” I had a few questions, and I am hoping to connect. Thank you.
Informational interview: Job
Hi “name,” I see you are a “title” at “Company.” I’m currently a “title,” and I’m curious about what you enjoy about your current role. Would you be willing to answer a few questions? Thank you.
Looking for a position: Recruiter or Hiring Manager
Hello “name,” I see that you work at “Company.” I am a “XYZ professional with x years of experience” and would like to discuss potentially working together. I’d love to see if my background would be a fit for “Company.” I look forward to connecting. Thank you.
Connection Accepted, Now What?
Congratulations! The connection request worked. Now what? The worst thing you can do once you’ve made a new contact is not do anything. Within a few days, follow up with a message. Thank them for connecting with you. Networking relationships should be mutually beneficial, so it is an opportunity to offer any services or help you could provide along with your ask. A script could sound like “Hi “Name,” Thanks for connecting! I hope you’re doing well. I was hoping you’d be willing to answer a few questions about “topic,” if so, would you prefer email or phone? Also, please let me know if there’s anything I can help with.” Thanks, “Your Name.”
Once you’ve started the conversation, work to keep that relationship going. Please make an effort to check in via direct message every so often or engaging with the content your new connection is posting. Remember to avoid any political or other controversial topics on LinkedIn, and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your future boss to read.