Messaging contacts on LinkedIn can be an effective way to build relationships, make new connections, and further your career. The key is knowing when and how to reach out professionally and purposefully to start meaningful conversations.
Should You Message a LinkedIn Contact?
Before messaging a connection on LinkedIn, consider whether it’s appropriate and if you have a specific purpose. Avoid spamming all your contacts with a generic greeting. Instead, identify connections who you want to build rapport with, ask for advice, or explore career opportunities. Reaching out to the right people for the right reasons will lead to more fruitful interactions.
How to Craft Your LinkedIn Message
Personalize the Greeting
Always address the person by name in your opening line. “Hi [First Name]” or “Dear [First Name]” are safe options. Avoid overfamiliar greetings like “Hey” or “Yo.” Keep it professional even if you know the person well outside of LinkedIn.
Mention Your Connection
In the first paragraph, note how you are connected on LinkedIn or where you know each other from. This reminds them of who you are and establishes context. For instance, “We used to work together at [Company]” or “We met at [Event].” If you have no prior relationship, share that you would like to connect.
Explain Why You’re Reaching Out
Get to the point of your message next. Be clear about your purpose for contacting them. Are you seeking career advice? Hoping to discuss job opportunities? Looking to collaborate? The more specific you can be, the better.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Pose questions that spark dialogue and demonstrate your interest. Ask about their career path, experience in the field, advice for someone starting out, or perspectives on industry trends. Avoid yes or no questions. Leave room for an engaging back-and-forth.
Watch Your Tone
Sound professional but also warm and sincere. Adopt your best written voice like you would for a cover letter. Be helpful, respectful and show genuine interest in connecting.
Best Practices for LinkedIn Messaging
Keep it Short
Get to the point within 2-3 concise paragraphs. Do not inundate contacts with long-winded messages. You want your message to be read so be considerate of their time.
Double check for any spelling and grammar errors which undercut your professionalism. Read your message out loud to catch anything you might have missed.
Send Individual Messages
Copying and pasting the same generic message to all connections screams spam. Personalize each note with details specific to the recipient.
If you do not hear back within a week or two, consider a brief, polite follow-up expressing continued interest in connecting. But do not harass contacts who never respond.
If a connection seems reluctant to engage or declines your request, accept it graciously and move on. Never pressure contacts into interacting.
When to Message New LinkedIn Connections
For new connections you wish to converse with, always send a connection request first along with a customized note. Wait for them to accept before messaging further.
One Week After Connecting
After connecting, allow contacts one week to settle the new connection before reaching out. This gives them time to review your profile and realize who you are.
After Being Introduced
If someone introduces you to one of their connections specifically for networking purposes, it is appropriate to message that person more promptly after connecting to set up a chat.
When You Need Advice
If you have an urgent ask, like needing feedback on your resume by a certain date, it is reasonable to politely request a quick conversation soon after connecting.
Who to Message on LinkedIn
Connections in Your Industry
Message peers who work at other companies in your field. Discuss industry trends, career development opportunities, and resources for improvement.
Stay in touch with former co-workers who have moved onto new roles elsewhere. Learn about their experience and discuss prospective job leads.
Message contacts who you share a mutual connection with, after asking that person for an introduction first.
If you have applied for a role at a company, thoughtfully messaging the hiring manager demonstrates initiative.
LinkedIn Group Members
Fellow members of industry-specific LinkedIn groups often welcome messages seeking advice and insights.
Avoid Cold Messaging Strangers
Refrain from messaging random contacts with no shared connections or groups. This comes across as aggressive solicitation.
What to Message About
Ask for a quick phone call to learn about their career path and request tips for your own trajectory in the field.
If you see contacts who work at a company that interests you, inquire about potential openings and application tips.
Request connections make introductions to people in their network who you would like to connect with.
Reach out to former colleagues you have lost touch with to spark conversation and renew your relationship.
Opinions on Your Work
Ask respected contacts to review your portfolio, resume, online profile and provide feedback.
Advice on Projects
Discuss an undertaking at work and get input from colleagues with relevant experience managing similar projects.
Messaging Etiquette to Avoid
Being Too Casual
Maintain a formal tone as you would with any professional correspondence, even if reaching out to a social contact.
Aggressive Sales Pitches
Do not message people solely to promote business offerings or aggressively recruit for opportunities.
Clearly explain the reason for connecting and your specific ask or discussion goals.
Typos or poor grammar undermine your professional brand. Always proofread thoroughly before sending.
Avoid messaging contacts too often, which can come across as pestering them. Allow time between conversations.
Impersonal Copy + Pastes
Personalize each note based on your relationship and the recipient rather than blasting out generic messages.
Sample LinkedIn Conversation Starters
Here are some example messages you can adapt when reaching out to your connections:
“Hi [Name], I hope you’ve been well! I wanted to introduce myself, since we’re both part of the [Industry] Professionals group on LinkedIn. I would love to connect and learn more about your career journey in [Industry].”
“Dear [Name], I saw that you work at [Company] – I’ve heard great things about their culture and opportunities. I would be interested in learning if there are any open roles I might be a fit for. Are you available for a quick phone call this week? Thank you for considering!”
“Hi [Name], It’s been awhile! So great to see you are now at [New Company]. How has the experience been compared to [Old Company]? I’m looking to make a career shift and would love to get your insight.”
“Hello [Name], I hope you are doing well. We met briefly at [Event] through our mutual friend [Mutual Connection]. I wanted to follow up because I’m exploring mentorship opportunities. Would you be open to discussing your career path and any advice you have over a coffee or phone call?”
Starting meaningful dialogues through LinkedIn messaging takes tact and care. Be purposeful, personalized, and professional. With the right approach, you can build fruitful relationships.