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How to Contact Someone You Don’t Know on LinkedIn, for Free

Let’s say you’re interested in working at a certain company and you want to chat with a certain person who works there, but you’ve never met. Here’s how to reach out to someone on LinkedIn who you don’t know–without upgrading to Premium.

First, see what you have in common.

Read their profile and notice anything you have in common with them, such as a similar occupational background, having graduated from the same school or training program, similar volunteering experiences, organizations, etc. Mentioning common interests can greatly increase your chance of getting a response.

Reach out via a group directory.

Now, check to see if you and this person belong to any of the same LinkedIn groups. Scroll all the way down in their profile to “Interests.”

If you do have a group in common, go to the group’s page. In the box at the upper right (where the number of members is listed, among other facts), click the small “See all” link. This takes you to the group’s directory. Once there, search for the member you want to contact and click “Message.”

(If you have no groups in common, simply join one of theirs. There may be a brief waiting period before your request is approved.)

Write a brief message, referencing what you have in common and asking for a few minutes to talk.

Hi, Denise. I’m writing to you as a fellow member of (group). I’m interviewing for a role at (company). May I talk with you for a few minutes about your experience there? I’d really appreciate your perspectives. All the best, (name)

If you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally. Most of us receive more messages and requests than we can handle. Just move on and try someone else.

Another option: start with a connection request.

Here’s how to send a connection request that’s more likely to get an answer: Include a note with your invitation request and mention any background or interests you have in common. You might also state a reason for connecting, such as: “I’m interested in connecting with others in the sales field.” Or, in many cases, a simple “I’d be honored if you would join my LinkedIn network” may be enough.

If the person accepts your request, go to their profile and click the Contact Info link near their photo. Most members include at least an email address in their contact info. Now you can send a brief email similar to the sample message above.

Don’t abuse your new powers!

Now you have the power to reach out to someone on LinkedIn without knowing them, for free. Use it, but don’t abuse it. Be authentic and appreciative. And remember, networking is for the benefit of both parties, so look for ways to give back.

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