Networking The Right Way: Sample LinkedIn Message Templates
Before I wrote this blog post, I did a little research... and what I found shocked me. According to Payscale, "Some experts say that 70 percent of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it's more like 80 percent or even 85 percent."
Thinking back to when I applied to PowerToFly, networking was exactly what got me in the door. I didn't know about PowerToFly, but my former manager did - she had even attended one of their very first events, and she's the one who encouraged me to apply.
This isn't necessarily what we picture when we think of networking, but networking doesn't have to mean attending an event and shaking hands. Networking is building and maintaining relationships over time… because you never know when they'll come in handy.
Before my PowerToFly interview, I googled everyone I was interviewing with. Actually, I did a little bit more than just google... I vividly remember going through the list of interviewers and checking to see if we had any shared connections on LinkedIn or mutual friends on Facebook. I even checked to see if we followed the same people on Instagram.
I found several mutual connections on LinkedIn and messaged all of them. Honestly, looking back at those messages now makes me cringe a bit… when you're using LinkedIn to network, you should still follow the same principle of building and maintaining relationships over time, not hastily asking people you barely know for favors like this:
Rather than tell you all about how I was ignored and out-right rejected, I'm going to tell you what I've learned since then and share exactly what you should be saying when sending a LinkedIn Connection Request or networking with your existing contacts.
Review these sample LinkedIn messages for 1st and 2nd degree connections and you'll be a LinkedIn networking guru in no time.
1st Degree Connections
1) When you're already connected with someone at the company you want to work for… and you know them relatively well:
Hi [Name], It was so great working with you at [Company Name] in 20XX - I still use your email templates to this day! I see that you're now working for [Company Name] and I'd love to catch up and learn more about what you're doing in this new role. Best, [Your Name]
The key here is to address the company you worked at and when. It wouldn't hurt to add something special that this person did that caught your eye or made an impact on your current career. Keep it short and sweet!
2) When you're already connected with someone at the company you want to work for… but you haven't spoken since high school (or ever):
Hi [Name], I know you don't know me very well, but we actually lived in the same dorm freshman year at Smith. I see that you're now working for[Company Name]and I'm very interested in [type of work]. Would you be willing to chat with me for 15 minutes about your experience at [Company Name]? I'd love to learn more. Best, [Your Name]
These messages will often run a bit longer because you need to remind this person who you are and give them a good reason to talk to you. The key is to acknowledge how you know each other, and then get quickly to your ask & why you're interested - learning more about their current role/company because you're interested in that type of work. Asking explicitly for a 15 minute phone call is helpful so they know you're not asking for too much of their time.
Whatever you do, don't lead asking them to refer you for the position you want to apply to -- they hardly know you, why would they stake their rep at work on a stranger? Ask for information first.
2nd Degree Connections
1) When someone you know relatively well is connected to the person/company you'd like to reach
Hi [Name], It was so great working with you at [Company Name] in 20XX - I still use your email templates to this day! I see that you know [Name], a [Role, e.g. Product Manager] at [Company Name]. Do you know them well enough to feel comfortable connecting us? I'm very interested in applying to [Company Name] and I'd love to learn a bit more about the culture & interview process beforehand. Best, [Your Name]
Similar to the first scenario for first degree connections, you want to remind this person of how you're connected and if possible, add a special detail to remind them of the work you did together. Then get straight to your ask - for them to connect you with one of their contacts. Be polite and ask if they feel comfortable making the intro… and let them know you just want more info, not for them to ask their friend for any extravagant favors on your behalf.
2) When someone you don't know well is connected to the person/company you'd like to reach
Hi [Name], I know you don't know me very well, but we actually lived in the same dorm freshman year at Smith. I saw that you know [Name], a [Role, e.g. Product Manager] at [Company Name] and I was wondering if you'd feel comfortable connecting us. I'm very interested in learning more about [subject matter, e.g. digital marketing] and would love to chat with a [Role at Company Name, e.g. Marketing Manager at Facebook] about their experience. Best, [Your Name]
This is arguably the trickiest scenario because you're basically doing double networking, working through two degrees of separation. Re-introduce yourself to your own contact, and then very politely ask if they'd be comfortable introducing you to your mutual connection.
Networking is a marathon, not a sprint.
When you utilize LinkedIn to make connections, make sure your ask is clear, but always request information first… Steer clear of asking anyone straight out to refer you for a position unless you know them very well and have worked together closely. For all the other cases, test out the templates above - you're trying to get a chance to prove to the connection in question that you're the type of person worth referring.