LinkedIn 201: How do I connect with people I don’t know?

How to set up a student linked profile

Find Alumni Feature

How do you begin a conversation with someone you don’t know? Start with what you have in common. Denisonians are a great bunch of individuals doing a variety of things around the world, and we love meeting one another. Thankfully, LinkedIn is here to help facilitate some of those meetings.

Find Denison alumni (or alumni of any college) by going here. You can get there by hovering over “My Network” at the top of LinkedIn, and clicking “Find Alumni.” This is a great resource that allows users to sort by location, occupation, company, college major, and more.

linkedin tips

LinkedIn Find Alumni Feature

So, you found someone with whom you’d like to connect… 

Hold up, don’t hit that send button yet! If you’re a second-degree connection or in the same Network (Denison), LinkedIn will allow you to send a generic invitation that says, “I’d like to add you to my Professional Network on LinkedIn.”

Instead, personalize your invitation as to why you would like to connect with that person. Do you share an interest? Have they published something you admire? Let them know, and sign your name.

Disclaimer: don’t send invitations from the LinkedIn app unless it is someone you know well—you’re not able to personalize your message.

Ask for an Introduction

Still not sure you want to send a cold-invite to a stranger? For individuals with whom you share a connection, you can ask for an introduction.

While this feature seems to be changing every time LinkedIn does an update, there are a few ways to go about asking for an introduction.

  1. Go to the profile of the person with whom you’d like to connect.
  2. Hover over one of your shared connections and click “Ask [connection] about [desired connection]”

Alternatively, send your mutual connection an email or InMail explaining why you’d like to be introduced. It’s as simple as that!

I’ve Initiated Contact, Now What?

Don’t let that connection just sit there, do something with it!

Informational interviews

If your new connection is local, ask them if they’d be interested in grabbing coffee and talking about their job and their career path. If they’re not local—ask if you can schedule a phone call.

Externship/Job Shadow

If you’re able over break, or on a day you don’t have classes—ask connections in your desired field if you can shadow them, or someone else at their company for a day, or afternoon. You may realize the job wasn’t exactly what you thought, or that it’s even better!

ALWAYS, send a thank-you note.

Whether you grab coffee, talk on the phone, shadow, or even land an internship or job interview after your initial contact with a new connection, be sure to send a note of thanks. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and remember you as thoughtful and thorough.

A quick reminder: never send someone you don’t know well an email asking for a job or internship. Your goal is to create a relationship, not solicit them for an opportunity.