Last week, I received an info interview request from a total stranger as a direct message on LinkedIn. And, despite my very busy schedule, I decided to take his call. Over the weekend, I asked myself, "Why did I agree?"
Let’s take his email apart and put it into four essential elements so that you can use them in your own LinkedIn communications.
First, here's the email I received via LinkedIn from J. :
I noticed that we are both connected to M. – how do you know M.? I first met her at Jacob’s Ladder, and she actually photographed my wedding. Small world.
I wanted to touch base with you because I saw an open position at J.R. that I thought would be a great fit for me. I'm located in Portland now (after being in Massachusetts and DC for many years), and do social media strategy for a digital marketing agency here in town.
It's a fun role, but you know how agencies are – fingers in a lot of different businesses, but no ability to truly own a marketing program. It looks like I would be able to do that with the Marketing Communications Manager role that is posted.
Would you mind if I called you some time this week to hear about your experience at J.R. and your perspective on the marketing organization there? I'd really appreciate it.
1. Lead with something in common.
My interviewee, J., began his email by pointing out our mutual friend M. And although I know M. from my sister's college days, what really got my attention was that M. was the photographer at her wedding.
Now, with LinkedIn, there is a danger that the first-degree connection isn't really a close friend. I went through an Open Networking phase and about 100 people in my LinkedIn network are complete strangers to me.
So don’t assume that just because they're connected, they know each other.
J. took a calculated risk. However, he mitigates that risk by further sharing a personal tidbit…he's married. And as another recently married guy, I can very much relate to his situation. (i.e., he has my sympathy ).
2. Get to the point--fast.
J. wastes no time with B.S. or apologies. He's writing to me because he saw an open position at a company I have a relationship with and thinks he’d be a fit.
Notice he says, "I saw an open position." He doesn't assume I know anything about this position. In fact, it was news to me. And so I can infer that he's not assuming I’m any kind of decision maker. I know this is going to be a purely informational interview.
Furthermore, he concludes the email by re-affirming that he's just looking to hear about my experience with J.R., the company, and my perspective on their marketing organization.
My guard goes down because I know he's not going to put me on the spot or ask me for more than just my opinion.
3. What makes him qualified?
Without bragging, J. makes it clear that he's a serious candidate, not one of those job fisherman.
He tells me he already works at an agency. And that even though he enjoys the agency, he's looking for more. He wants to "truly own a marketing program."
It might occur to me, after all, that if he already has a job, why is he looking to make a change?
That concern is assuaged.
4. What do you want from me?
He concludes his email with, "Would you mind if I called you sometime this week…" meaning, I won't have to do anything except wait for a phone call and talk to him. Sounds easy.
I would have even mentioned the exact amount of time such a conversation would have taken, "Would you mind if I called you this week for just 10 or 15 minutes?"
You may have also noticed that:
- The email was VERY short. It took me less than 30 seconds to read it.
- He named the position he was after by name, he did his research, and I know he won't waste my time.
- He is sensitive to and grateful for my time, stating, "I would really appreciate it…"
The next time you are reaching out to someone new over LinkedIn, consider bringing in one or more of these elements to your message. I'm sure it will make a big difference in your response rate.
Had success making new connections on LinkedIn? Share your story with us in the comments section below, so we can learn from your brilliance!
Joshua Waldman helps frustrated job seekers leverage social media to find work FAST! He is the founder of CareerEnlightenment.com and the author of the new book, Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies. Sign-up for his newsletter today and get access to his exclusive training videos for free.