Built your network and ready to start using it in your job search? But, not really sure how to do that or where to even start? Here is a step-by-step guide to messaging someone on LinkedIn about a job.

#1 - Know the Why

Understanding clearly why you want to reach out seems obvious. But, it is really important to know what you want before you start to reach out to other people. Understanding those motivations about why you want to reach out is key to clarify exactly who, what, and when to reach out to someone.

The motivation to reach out can vary and may not be perfectly clear. But, you have to know why it is that you think you need help before messaging someone on LinkedIn. A few common reasons to message people on LinkedIn include:

*Wanting to know more about what they do

*Wanting to know more about their company

*Interest in learning how they made their career moves/landed where they are

*There's an open job at their company and you would like to learn more

*You know someone that knows them and that contact said this person would be the best to talk to

*You don't know the person, but think they could be helpful in your job search

#2 - Decide Who to Reach Out to First

Once you have a sense of the why, you can start to look at who you should reach out to on LinkedIn. This could be acquaintances in your network, people that are 2nd or 3rd degree connections, or people that you don't directly know but want to know professionally. Whatever the reason, make sure that you have a strategy about who you are reaching out to in order to make the following steps easier in this process.

#3 - Find a Connection

The more you know about the person, the easier it is to start a conversation on LinkedIn. Everyone is tired of those cold in-mails about someone trying to sell something. But, people are on LinkedIn to grow and leverage their professional network. So, utilize the information on the person's LinkedIn profile to see if you can find a connection with the person. This could be a simple as working at the same company or having gone to the same college. Or, it could be through mutual connections or groups on LinkedIn. Whatever it is, take a few minutes to figure it out so that you can include this detail in your LinkedIn message.  

#4 - Be Clear About Why You are Contacting Them

You know the why (because you did step #1 above), but they need to understand it in that first message. Make sure to include that detail in your LinkedIn message or inmail so that they know immediately what your connection is (if any) and what you are hoping to gain from messaging them. Overall, people spend an average of 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month. They aren't using this limited time to reply to generic messages. So, make sure that you articulate a reason why they should read your full message and respond to you.

#5 - Create a Short, Clear Message

The first message to someone that you are reaching out to on LinkedIn about your job search should be clear and to the point. It really shouldn't be more than 4 - 6 sentences. It should be enough to get the person's attention so that they want to respond, but not tell your entire life story.

An effective structure of these messages is:

Sentence 1 - Introduce yourself and identify your connection to the person (if any)

Sentence 2 - Explain why you are reaching out

Sentence 3 - Provide a reason for this person to help you

Sentence 4 - Ask a question or request help

#6 - Customize the Message

The more specific your message the better. This incentivizes people to help you in your efforts and to respond to your message. As noted above, a good structure of a colder outreach on LinkedIn is one that starts with some kind of connection and ends with a question.  You do this to start a conversation – just like if you were at a professional networking event. You don't want to talk at the person, but you want to start a conversation that is tailored to your specific audience. This is how you dramatically improve the effectiveness of your efforts.

#7 - Do Not Send Your Resume

Blasting your resume off is one-sided and it will rarely lead to anything. So, you shouldn't send a copy of your resume in the first LinkedIn message. Instead, the goal of this message is to start a conversation with the person to explore how they could help you. This person will check out your LinkedIn profile to determine whether you are real and to see how they may be connected to you. This is why it is so important to have a strong LinkedIn profile that aligns with your resume. You need to have a credible professional presence online for everyone to see. Then, you can use it to start career-changing conversations.

You can send your resume through LinkedIn messaging. But, wait until after you have completed the first conversation with the contact or they have explicitly requested it. This improves the quality of the follow-up and prevents the person from thinking that you are only interested in how they can help you. This is key to improving the quality of your connections and the time that you are spending in your job search.

#8 - Be Ok with Silence

Finally, and probably most importantly, you have to be ok with silence or rejection. As noted above, people aren't on LinkedIn as much as other social media sites. It's a professional place and people are moving across parts of the platform for lots of different reasons. So, you have to be ok with sending out messages on LinkedIn to receive no immediate response. The reality is that it may be days before you get a response. You may not get a response to every message. If you need an immediate response, it is probably better to contact the person through email or phone. But, in most cases, that's not necessary.

Following these 8 steps can feel like a lot. But, the process of messaging new contacts or people you aren't connected with on LinkedIn does get easier with practice. The key is always in taking the time to make quality messages. In turn, this will improve your response rate and likely your job search efforts. The people you contact on LinkedIn through messaging may not respond right away, but that's ok. Using LinkedIn to message people in your job search is simply one tool in your tool kit. Make sure that you continue to keep up all of your other efforts in this process as well - applying to jobs, following up on jobs, and engaging your network across platforms to keep the momentum moving forward.


Need help in using LinkedIn in your search? Get expert help to walk you through the process today.

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