Connecting on LinkedIn: The 5-Point Email

One of the best uses of LinkedIn is for exploring careers.  It is actually pretty simple: you use your LinkedIn contacts to find people working in careers that interest you.  Then you contact them and request a career chat -- also known as an informational interview --  to learn more about their job, their career path, and what advice they might have for you.

If you cannot find someone amongst your contacts, try the Loyola Marymount University Alumni pages.  Here you can search by major, region, job function, competencies and other areas to find an alumnus working at a job or company that interests you.  Once you do, use the "Connect" feature to request an informational interview.  Reaching out to a stranger can sometimes feel daunting, so here are five tips for writing a good "connect" email:

Include your photo

People respond more readily to a smiling face than compared to a bunch of words, so be sure you have a photo on your profile – a smiling headshot containing no other people. 

Keep it brief

Be to the point with the message. Someone who receives a short, tailored message is more likely to respond – plus, a LinkedIn invitation has a 300-character limit!

State connection first

By mentioning your connection first, it gives the recipient a reason to care. It will maximize your chances of getting your message read.

Tell them why you would like to connect

Be specific about why you would like to connect so they do not think you are out just trying to add connections.  However, do not ask for a job specifically -- you may scare off your contact, who may have nothing to do with hiring. Instead, if you ask to discuss the company, the industry itself or your contact’s career path and current position, it feels more like a request for a conversation, not a job interview.

Maintain control of follow-up

This helps close the gap of time it may take to get back to you. For example, close your email by stating you understand they may have a busy schedule and if they are do not reply to your email, you will follow up in a week; this provides the opportunity to contact them again -- just make sure that you do!

Example of the Five-Point Email

Email SUBJECT: LMU student seeks your advice

Dear Sam,

I am a LMU junior and saw your profile in the LinkedIn Alumni pages. May I have 20 minutes to ask you about your experience with IBM?  I am exploring marketing careers in technology companies, and your insights would be very helpful. I know you may be busy, so will try you again next week if we are unable to connect this week.

Thank you,
Iggy Lion

Some information adapted from UC Berkeley, Career Center