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5 Rules for Asking LinkedIn Connections for Help (Plus a Template and Example)

By | Carrie Mantha |

So you’re looking for a job, and you’ve turned to your LinkedIn network to help you out. That’s great! Not only are your connections a great resource, but groups like your college alumni association, sorority, and digital marketing association are also full of people who are generally inclined to help—and all you have to do is ask.

Well, all you have to do is ask the right way.

The truth is, asking for help from your LinkedIn connections takes a little bit of finesse. For example, I’m a fashion-tech CEO who genuinely enjoys helping young women with career development, so I’m always happy to help my contacts find a job or internship in fashion, e-commerce, PR, marketing, or tech startups. However, I’m swamped with work and don’t always have time to think about how to provide that help, unless someone spells out for me exactly what they need.

So when you’re the one asking for help, your goal should be to write a post that will immediately tell a distracted, time-crunched, but very willing connection like me how to help you. Just follow these five rules.

1. Put your “ask” up front.

I read my LinkedIn notifications when I wake up each morning—along with about 100 other overnight emails (this morning’s non-spam count was 137!). If you don’t tell me what you want in the first 200 characters, I’m on to the next email.

Also remember to ask, not pitch. For example, if I see a post in my sorority group notification that starts, “Bright, eager, self-starting new graduate from Beta Pi chapter at the University of Florida with a degree in mass communications, a minor in public relations, and a varsity letter in soccer,” I might do a little Kappa Delta-pride fist pump, but I’m not going to be able to help you find a job. Use this prime real estate to quickly tell me how I can help you. On that note:

2. Be as specific as humanly possible.

The more specific your request, the more likely I am to think of a way to help you before my mind wanders back to those other 100+ unopened emails.

For example, if you write, “looking for a marketing internship,” your only hope is that I happen to be looking for a marketing intern right at that moment and am willing to read further to see if you’re a fit. However, if you write, “looking for a summer marketing internship in NYC with an e-commerce company like Warby Parker or Bonobos,” I might remember that I know someone at Warby Parker. It doesn’t matter if my contact is looking for interns—I can easily send your resume over with a note saying that Warby is one of your favorite companies and ask her to please consider you when she’s next hiring.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you want, you lose nothing by naming a few companies. Specificity is always helpful in reminding your connections who they know.

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