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On this page: Don Goodman offers 4 ways to break the ice to connect with someone you don't know using LinkedIn

4 LinkedIn Ice Breakers

It has always been true that networking is the most effective way to find a new position. And now LinkedIn has made networking even easier.

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Nonetheless, with people being bombarded by digital messages, you need to consider how to get your message noticed and answered.

Prepare for a Response

Before you contact someone, make sure you know what you are going to say when they respond to you. Hone your elevator pitch, the 3-4 sentences you use to tell people your value proposition.

You need to also be prepared to send them a fully developed and well-crafted resume.

Research Your Target

Know something about who you are communicating with. Check out their backgrounds to see if you know anyone in common or have similar skills and experiences.

See what groups they are members of, and join one (or two) of their Groups. Sharing a Group allows you to communicate with them on LinkedIn for free, as opposed to paying for InMails.

Also, make sure you follow the company on LinkedIn. Many companies have Profiles on LinkedIn, connecting to their news, job postings, and other useful information gleaned from LinkedIn members who currently work for the employer as well as those who who worked there in the past.

4 LinkedIn "Ice Breakers"

People usually respond much better when you ask for advice rather than asking for a job. And advice can be very useful. So, start there to build the relationship and gather information about this potential employer and the contact, too.

1. You do not know them, and they formerly worked at the company you are targeting.

It’s best to start with someone who doesn’t work at the company so you can build confidence.

A good opener might be:

"Hi Joe, I noticed that you are a fellow member of XYZ Group. I wonder if you could give me some quick advice as a random act of kindness.

"I am targeting positions at XYZ and, as I see that you used to work there, I was hoping you could tell me a bit about the corporate culture and what your experience was like. I only need a few minutes and can make myself available at your convenience as I would really appreciate your insights.

"Thanks in advance."

Note: I have found that the phrase "random act of kindness" does wonders in getting people to respond.

2. You do not know anyone at the company, but one of your contacts does.

This is the most common situation and the first thing you need to gauge is the strength of your relationship with your contact.

If they really know and like you, then getting a referral is pretty straightforward.

If you have a casual knowledge of each other, it is more difficult. Here's a message for this situation:

"Hello Sue, I wonder if you could give me some quick advice.

"I have been told that XYZ is a great place to work, and I noticed that you know some people there. I value your opinion and was wondering if you can tell me anything about the company, and what it is like to work there?

"Alternatively, may I drop your name in reaching out to your contact there for more information?

"I can make myself available at your convenience, and would really appreciate your thoughts."

3. You do not know the person at all, and you have no relationship whatsoever. This is the classic "cold contact."

"Hello Bill, I noticed that you are a fellow member of XYZ Group and I wonder if you could give me some quick advice as a random act of kindness.

"I am an (insert your 1-2 sentence elevator pitch): Software Engineer with over 15 years of experience at such firms as American Express and Bank of America. I have led the full project life cycle for dozens of high-end initiatives mostly to support online customer-facing initiatives. I have also delivered multiple mobile applications on iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms, but the emphasis here in this area is not as great as I had hoped.

"My friends and colleagues have mentioned that your organization is pushing hard on the mobile platform application development front and I was wondering if you think I might be a good fit in your company?

"Please click on my profile, or call me at 212-555-1212. I can make myself available at your convenience and would really appreciate your thoughts. I promise not to take up much of your time.

"Thanks in advance."

4. You do not know the person, but you have established a bit of a relationship on LinkedIn. This is a "warmer contact."

In this scenario, you not only have identified the person you wish to connect to, but you have joined his or her LinkedIn Groups and responded to his or her comments and postings. This, then, is a bit stronger as you are creating a relationship.

You are not a total stranger to this person.

"Hello Bill, I noticed that you are a fellow member of XYZ Group and I have been reading and commenting on your discussions regarding mobile application development. As you described, I too recognize the challenge of supporting multiple changing platforms.

"I am a (insert your 1-2 sentence elevator pitch): Software Engineer with over 15 years of experience at such firms as American Express and Bank of America. I have led the full project life cycle for dozens of high-end initiatives mostly to support online customer-facing initiatives. I have also delivered multiple mobile applications on iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms, but the emphasis here in this area is not as great as I had hoped.

"It would seem that your organization is pushing hard on the mobile platform application development front and I was wondering if you think I should target openings at your firm?

"Please click on my profile, or call me at 212-555-1212. I can make myself available at your convenience and would really appreciate your thoughts. I promise not to take up much of your time.

"Thanks in advance."

Clearly 4 is stronger than 3, so identify your targets, and join in their discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter so you can build some credibility before contacting them.

Bottom Line

Everyone talks about using LinkedIn to network into an employer's organization, but doing it gracefully is not as easy as it sounds. Try these 4 approaches in the right situations, and you will accelerate the results from your LinkedIn networking.


About this author...

Don Goodman, Job-Hunt’s IT Job Search Expert, is a triple-certified career professional (Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Coach and Job Search Strategist) with over 15 years of experience helping thousands of people quickly land their next job. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program, he has over 30 years of IT experience. Connect with Don at his website IT-Resume.com or his blog about IT resumes, or for non-IT professionals see GotTheJob.com. You can find Don on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter @JobExpert and Google+. Contact Don directly at DGoodman@IT-Resume.com or call 800-909-0109.

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