How to Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action - Executive Career Brand™ (2023)

How to Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action - Executive Career Brand™ (1)

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.

In fact, this line appeared in their Terms of Use until 2018:

Don’t “invite people you do not know to join your network.”

With their Plus One Pledge initiative, 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.

One of the Many Good Reasons to Connect with Someone

An essential, but often overlooked job search strategy is to conduct informational interviews.

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These are informal conversations with people working at the companies and in the fields in which you want to work, or people who are within a few degrees of separation from them.

It’s not a job interview and these people do not hold the reins on any particular jobs.

Your mission is to gather information for your due diligence and to determine whether that company, the role(s) and you will be a mutual good fit.

Although the purpose of these interviews is NOT to ask for a job, the topic may come up.

Once you’re a first degree connection of someone on LinkedIn, you’ll have a much better chance of getting an informational interview with them.

Set the Stage to Attract People

If you haven’t put some time and effort into creating a fully fleshed out, magnetic LinkedIn profile, you may turn off potential connections right at the get-go.

Your profile needs to tell people:

  • Who you are
  • How you operate on the job
  • What skills and qualifications you have that your target employers need
  • How you’ve contributed to past employers
  • How you achieved those wins

Put yourself in the shoes of the people you reach out to, to connect with.

They’ll probably go straight to your profile to learn something about you and determine whether or not they will accept your invitation.

I don’t know how many times I’ve done this very thing with people who asked me to connect, and then found these issues with their profile:

  • No profile photo
  • The default profile headline (your most recent job)
  • Little to no content overall
  • The About section left completely blank
  • The About section had generic information that could apply to anyone like them

If you’re making blunders like those, I probably won’t connect with you.

Although I may be okay connecting with you if you have minimal content in your profile, it DOES have to say enough about you to help me decide.

I want to know SOMETHING about you before adding you to my network.

Make sure you have at least some information in the Experience section before you start inviting people to connect with you. Give us something to work from.

Get on the Radar of Potential Connections

Once you’ve determined who you want to connect with, work on positioning yourself in front of them and getting them to notice you:

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  • Comment on and react to their LinkedIn updates and articles
  • Join the LinkedIn Groups they belong to and comment on/react to their posts there
  • Interact with them on other social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

How To 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. Don’t turn them off. Give them a reason to WANT to connect with you.

A Little-Used Way To Connect on LinkedIn

In a LinkedIn article, Bruce Johnston described 12 things he’s learned about using LinkedIn, including:

“LinkedIn can be used to find paths to people you don’t know via people you do know.

Every time you see a little “2nd” beside someone’s name on LinkedIn, that means you share one or more LinkedIn Connections with that person. You can ask your mutual connection for an introduction, a referral or for more background on your person of interest. And you don’t need a premium subscription to obtain this info or use it. This is a very underrated and underutilized aspect of LinkedIn.”

2 Quick Messages to Connect on LinkedIn

Here are two easy ways to circumvent the default invitation to connect message:

Mention a mutual connection

[First name],

Our mutual connection, [connection name], suggested that you and I might benefit from connecting here on LinkedIn. I hope you agree!

[Your name]

Mention a mutual interest

Hi [first name],

I was talking with a mutual connection of ours, [connection name], about [important topic]. She/he/they said you were an expert in this area.

I’d like to connect with you to stay up to date with your thoughts and perspective on [hot topic].

Kind Regards,

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[Your Name]

Best Strategies to Connect on LinkedIn and Also Ask 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.

Entice them to jump to your profile where you’ll really clinch the deal.

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].”

Paragraph 3 – Wrap it up briefly and courteously.

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.”

Advice from Experts on How to Connect on LinkedIn

In a Harvard Business Review article, various experts weighed in with example scripts for your messages.

Tim Herrera, founding editor of Smarter Living at The New York Times, recommends transparency:

“Whatever the ask is, the best favor you can do for yourself is not to beat around the bush. You’re teeing the recipient up to give you exactly what you want because they know exactly what that is. You’ve taken away the ambiguity for them, which will save them time and mental effort, and you’re also setting up the exchange to be as productive and efficient as possible.”

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But, of course, always be courteous with your ask.

Here’s an example to adapt to your circumstances:

“Erica, your professional journey really stood out to me. I’m very interested in building my career as a [role]. Since you’ve been in that position, would you have some time to offer me a bit of advice on pursuing this? I would really appreciate a brief call at your convenience.”

And another example, if you want someone to review your resume or other job search materials:

“Hi Kristi, you’ve built a really interesting career in thought leadership, and [mutual contact] mentioned you were a great resource as she revised her resume. Since I’m hoping to advance from [my current role], I’d love to get your brief take on my cover letter if your schedule allows it.”

Or, if you’re asking about a job opening or the hiring process, Amber Naslund, principal content consultant at LinkedIn, suggests something like this:

“Hi Cameron, I saw that your company is recruiting a marketing assistant. Since it seems you’d work directly with this person, it would be wonderful to hear your thoughts on the role. I’m looking to get some clarity on the role and responsibilities before I apply. Do you have a few minutes to speak with me about it in the next week or two?”

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, when you’re requesting something beyond just adding them as a LinkedIn connection, 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.

More About LinkedIn, Personal Branding and Executive Job Search:

Worksheets for Today’s Job Search

Executive Resume – LinkedIn Profile – Biography: What’s the Difference?

How to Run a Confidential Job Search on LinkedIn

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How do you make connections on LinkedIn if you don't know anyone? ›

5 Musts When Connecting with Someone You Don't Know on LinkedIn
  1. You must customize your invitation. Stand out in a sea of mediocrity. ...
  2. You must tell them who you are. ...
  3. You must indicate your reason for reaching out. ...
  4. You must extend your value proposition. ...
  5. You must make it concise.
Aug 24, 2020

How do I Connect with an executive on LinkedIn? ›

You can do this by looking at their LinkedIn profile, Googling them, and asking people in your network who know them for advice on what to bring up in conversation. With the preparation completed, you should now have a list of questions to go through and ask them about their careers or some of their hobbies/interests.

How do I Connect with someone on LinkedIn professionally? ›

Various ways to connect with people on LinkedIn
  1. Member's profile - Click or tap the Connect button on their profile page.
  2. Search results page - Click Connect to the right of the member's information.
  3. Grow Your Network page - Import contacts using their email address.
  4. My Network page - Accept pending invitations.

Is it OK to connect with executives on LinkedIn? ›

If you have a good, supportive, and trusting relationship with your boss, it's probably a no-brainer to become a 1st-degree connection with her/him on LinkedIn. As with any person, it expands your online network and potentially broadens your online visibility.

Do you just connect with random people on LinkedIn? ›

If you are going to connect with strangers on LinkedIn, Work advises people to remember that “the goal is not to add as many people as possible just to build up your connections. The goal is to network and get your name out there in the industries you want to work in.” Try searching for connections with intent.

What should I say in a LinkedIn connection request? ›

4. Common Connection Request Message Templates
  1. Hey (Name). I notice we share a mutual connection or two & would love to add you to my network of professionals. ...
  2. Hi (Name) I see we have some mutual connections. ...
  3. Hi (Name). ...
  4. Hi (Name). ...
  5. (Your Name) ...
  6. Cheers.
Apr 12, 2022

How do you approach C level executives on LinkedIn? ›

5 Steps to How to Connect on LinkedIn with C-level Executives (decision-makers)
  1. Define your target audience.
  2. Search for target C-level executives.
  3. Send connection request with a message.
  4. Keep your first outbound message short.
  5. Follow up with a thoughtful message.
Feb 24, 2021

What is the etiquette for connecting on LinkedIn? ›

Consistently network and meet people on LinkedIn

Once you connect and engage with other people on LinkedIn, don't be afraid to send direct messages to your connections. Ask to set up a call, but be respectful of their time. Let them know why you want to connect.

How do I attract executive recruiters on LinkedIn? ›

How to Attract Executive Recruiters to Your LinkedIn Profile
  1. Show Up in Searches. ...
  2. Use a Professional Profile Picture. ...
  3. Be Up to Date and Stay Active. ...
  4. Include Your Location. ...
  5. Display Your Educational Background. ...
  6. Indicate Your Industry. ...
  7. Display Your Current Position. ...
  8. Start networking with executive recruiters.
Aug 8, 2018

How do you reach out to someone professionally? ›

Caption Options
  1. Demonstrate your connection. Professionals are much more likely to help someone they're already connected to, whether it's a shared alma mater or a mutual friend. ...
  2. Arrive prepared. ...
  3. Follow up. ...
  4. Ask for a job. ...
  5. Be too casual. ...
  6. Misspell anything. ...
  7. Be demanding. ...
  8. Only talk about yourself.
Jan 16, 2015

How do you network with someone you don't know? ›

10 Quick Tips for Networking When You Don't Know Anyone
  1. Say “hello” This is the best introduction to people you don't know. ...
  2. Find a conversation piece. ...
  3. Be Confident. ...
  4. Find Some Common Ground. ...
  5. Move Around. ...
  6. Do not Shove Business Cards in People Faces. ...
  7. Do Not Hog Conversations. ...
  8. Look for Other People who Might be Alone.
Oct 17, 2022

How do you introduce yourself on LinkedIn? ›

If you're looking for a way to introduce yourself on LinkedIn to a prospective customer, here's an example of how you can do it.
  1. Start with a personalized message. ...
  2. Keep it professional. ...
  3. Be brief and to the point. ...
  4. Read For 3 More Tips + 4 Written Examples on 👇🏽
Sep 27, 2022

Do hiring managers look at LinkedIn connections? ›

Recruiters want to know that you're qualified for the job, will be good at it, and will get results. They'll look at your LinkedIn profile to see what you've accomplished and how you've used the skills and experience you've gained. Prove you're the candidate for the job by showing measurable results.

What should CEOs talk about on LinkedIn? ›

7 LinkedIn Content Ideas for CEOs
  • Industry and Company Insights. Tell the story you want your network to know about your industry or what your company does. ...
  • Trends, Reports, and Predictions. ...
  • Lessons Learned. ...
  • Achievements and Company Updates. ...
  • Video Presentations. ...
  • How To's and Educational Content. ...
  • Complimentary Content.

Is it unprofessional to reach out to a hiring manager on LinkedIn? ›

It's the very reason they're on LinkedIn—to source the right candidates for their opening. Yes, it is perfectly OK to connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. Now that you know it's OK to connect, let me share: How to find the hiring manager on LinkedIn.

Should I accept people I don't know in LinkedIn? ›

LinkedIn's own advice is that you should only accept connection requests from people that “you know personally and who you trust on a professional level”.

Is it rude to connect with people you dont know on LinkedIn? ›

Yes it is right to connect with people you barely know to grow your network. Once you are connected, you can talk to see if you can help each other.

Why does LinkedIn keep asking me if I know the same person? ›

It suggests LinkedIn members for you to connect with. According to LinkedIn, these recommendations are based on commonalities between you and other LinkedIn members. It also considers contacts you've imported from your email and mobile address books.

How to write LinkedIn connection requests that will never get declined? ›

Top Tips on Writing LinkedIn Connect Messages from LinkedIn Influencers
  1. Your request is polite and professional at all times.
  2. You introduce yourself and include some personal information.
  3. Try and offer some praise, for example, how the person's product or service has helped you personally.
Sep 18, 2022

How do you ask someone why they want to connect on LinkedIn? ›

The best practice is to ask yourself the question: “Why are you sending this message?” and elaborate the answer in one sentence. You could write “follow up” or something like “Here is the ___ as requested from ___”. The first one doesn't explain who is following up for what and also there is no personal connection.

How to impress C-level executives? ›

Here are some tips on how to engage with high-ranking officers of a company:
  1. Start at the Top of C-Level Management. ...
  2. Forget the Features. ...
  3. Understand the Priorities of C-Level Executives. ...
  4. Level with Them. ...
  5. Get Social. ...
  6. Don't Burn Bridges With C-Level Connections. ...
  7. Be Pleasantly Persistent.

Who are considered C-level executives? ›

The most common C-level executive positions include the following:
  • CEO. CEO stands for chief executive officer and represents the highest C-suite position within a business. ...
  • COO. COO stands for chief operating officer. ...
  • CFO. CFO stands for chief financial officer. ...
  • CIO. ...
  • CMO. ...
  • CTO. ...
  • CISO.

How to impress C-Suite executive? ›

5 Tips for Presenting To C-Level Executives
  1. Include an executive summary. An executive summary – a single snapshot of your whole presentation – offers your audience control. ...
  2. Have a BIG Idea. Always include a BIG idea in the executive summary. ...
  3. Prepare for executives with different needs.

What is the 5 3 2 rule LinkedIn? ›

5: Should be content from others that is relevant to your audience. 3: Should be content from you that is relevant to your audience but not sales focused. 2: Should be personal, fun content that helps humanise your brand.

What is the 4 1 rule LinkedIn? ›

The 4-1-1 rule says that for every single piece of content you share about yourself (or your organization), you should share an update from another source and, most importantly, share four pieces of content written by others.

How should you greet new connections on LinkedIn who i don t know already? ›

Don't just send, "Hi" or "Hi, How are you?" as your first message. Specify your reason. The reason can be as simple as possible.

How do you get found by executive recruiters? ›

How to Get Noticed By Executive Recruiters
  • High online visibility: LinkedIn: Two-thirds of recruiters search LinkedIn when they are looking to match professionals with job openings. ...
  • High profile authority: ...
  • Strong personal brand: ...
  • Achievement: ...
  • Extensive network: ...
  • Direct contact: ...
  • Be a recruiter's client:

How do you get executive recruiters to notice you? ›

Tips for making executive recruiters notice you include:
  1. Make sure your photo on LinkedIn or other sites is current and professional.
  2. Do your due diligence; you want a recruiter who is looking for candidates for the kind of job you want.
  3. Take every opportunity to be a speaker or panelist at conferences.

How do you recruit executive level positions? ›

5 executive recruitment best practices
  1. 1) Create a plan and market map before you recruit.
  2. 2) Define the leadership role(s) you're hiring for.
  3. 3) Work on your talent pipeline strategy.
  4. 4) Consider hiring from within using internal mobility.
  5. 5) Conduct effective and fair interviews to find the right candidate.
May 16, 2023

What is the most professional way to call out? ›

Keep it brief

It's usually best to give your employer only the most basic details of why you need to miss work. Be sure to express an interest in getting back to work soon, and offer a means of assisting those who will be impacted by your absence.

How do you email a stranger for career advice? ›

How to ask for career advice in an email
  1. Engage in research and preparation. ...
  2. Create a list of potential contacts to email. ...
  3. Create a compelling subject line. ...
  4. Describe yourself and your career interests. ...
  5. Discuss why you chose the recipient and request their advice. ...
  6. Express your gratitude for their advice. ...
  7. Proofread your email.
Mar 10, 2023

How do you reach out to someone whose career you admire? ›

How to Reach Out to Someone Whose Career You Admire
  1. Establish your credibility. When you send a networking request, it's important to immediately set yourself apart as someone worth knowing. ...
  2. Offer value. ...
  3. Highlight what makes you interesting. ...
  4. Make it clear that you have no expectations.
Jul 17, 2019

How do I network without being awkward? ›

How to… stop feeling awkward at events: 5 networking hacks
  1. Warm-up and ask questions / Plan ahead. Introverts' social energy often has a limit; it's important to know who you'd best like to meet and be introduced to. ...
  2. Get ahead with tech. ...
  3. End conversations gracefully. ...
  4. Take breaks. ...
  5. Count down, don't overthink, just do it.

How do you reach out to someone you don't know about a job? ›

5 Ways To Reach Out To Your Contacts When Looking For A Job
  1. One: Ask People For Help Individually. Always reach out to contacts individually. ...
  2. Two: Be Clear About What You Want. Don't just say, “Hey, Bob! ...
  3. Three: Include Your Resume. ...
  4. Four: Offer Something To Them. ...
  5. Five: Reach Out To Everyone.

How do I network without being annoying? ›

How to Use Your Network Without Being Annoying
  1. Contact them about something personal. ...
  2. Invite them to your events. ...
  3. Connect on social media. ...
  4. Don't be scary. ...
  5. Don't forget to talk about career stuff. ...
  6. Don't forget to return the favor. ...
  7. Don't forget to take it slowly.

How do I start introducing myself professionally? ›

Conclusion: When introducing yourself, preparation and amiability are key
  1. Have open body language, smile, and look people in the eyes.
  2. Be well-groomed.
  3. Prepare in advance.
  4. Make your introduction relevant, informative, and not too long.
  5. Show interest in other people.

How can I professionally introduce myself? ›

Personal commercial template
  1. Greeting: Hello, my name is (name). ...
  2. Goal: I am looking for (internship/full-time position) at (employer name).
  3. Interest/passion: I am interested in (interests related to the company/industry).
  4. Strengths: I have many skills to contribute including (strengths) and (skills).

How do you network when you don't know anyone? ›

10 Quick Tips for Networking When You Don't Know Anyone
  1. Say “hello” This is the best introduction to people you don't know. ...
  2. Find a conversation piece. ...
  3. Be Confident. ...
  4. Find Some Common Ground. ...
  5. Move Around. ...
  6. Do not Shove Business Cards in People Faces. ...
  7. Do Not Hog Conversations. ...
  8. Look for Other People who Might be Alone.
Oct 17, 2022

What happens when you tell LinkedIn you don't know someone? ›

When you receive a connection invitation on LinkedIn, you can opt to Accept or Ignore it. If you click Ignore, you have the option to select I don't know this person. This prevents the person you don't know from sending you another invitation in the future.

How do I network when I don't have connections? ›

6 Networking Tips When You Don't Have a Big Network
  1. The relationship comes first. Drop all expectations.
  2. Focus on people who share something in common.
  3. Reach out via LinkedIn first. Email second.
  4. Ask well-researched, thoughtful, and personalized questions.
  5. Thank them. ...
  6. It's a numbers game that requires consistency.
Sep 24, 2020


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