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Advice / Job Search / Networking

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

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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.

3. Make it easy to get to “know” you.

Remember, every time you ask someone to help you—especially by recommending you for a job or introducing you to one of their contacts—you’re essentially asking them to put their own professional reputation on the line at least a little bit. So make it easy for your connections to be comfortable recommending you. Make sure your message is thoughtful, concise, and well-written and that your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date. Even if your connection knows you well, seeing how you present yourself can help give them an extra boost of confidence in you.

4. Make it easy to forward your info.

Include a link to a PDF of your resume (you can use Google Docs or any similar service to do this) in the body of your message or post so that your contacts can easily forward it on if needed. Make sure that resume has all your contact info as well. Personally, I don’t have time to go back and forth with you to get your resume as an attachment—it’s much easier when it’s all in one easily forwardable place.

5. Follow up if they helped you out.

If someone who saw your post ends up giving you a hand, let them know immediately! Even if you’ve never met them before (which is not unlikely if you’ve reached out to a big professional group). Not only is it good karma (and good manners!) to thank someone who’s helped you, but they may also be able to help you further with interview advice or an introduction to another person who may be good for you to speak with.

A LinkedIn post template to help you along

Now that you know the rules, you can use them to plug in the right info to this LinkedIn post template. Note: You’ll need to tweak it based on what specific help you’re asking for and how well you know the people who will be reading your post.

Hi all! I [reason you’re asking for help; e.g., “am a data analyst with fintech experience looking for my next opportunity” or “recently saw a job opening for a sales rep at ZZZ inc and was wondering if anyone would be willing to make an introduction to someone on the team“]. As a [few word description of yourself], I’d love to [why you have your request; e.g., “connect with them to discuss email strategy” or “find a new opportunity at a small company where I can help build their HR strategy”].

Would anyone be able to [succinctly ask for what you want]? [Add anything you’re doing to make it easier to help you; e.g. “Here’s a link to a PDF of my resume. Feel free to it pass along if you’d like.”] Thanks in advance for any help you’re able to give me!

An example LinkedIn post for a professional group

Here’s how the template looks filled in.

Hi all! I’m looking for a UX web design role in the ed-tech space. As a former teacher who now has three years of experience in UX design, I’d love to find a job where I can unite these two parts of my background at a company like NoRedInk or Coursera.

Would anyone be able to let me know if you hear of any openings like this? Here’s a link to a PDF of my resume. Feel free to pass it along if you’d like. Thanks in advance for any help you’re able to offer!

OK, now it’s your turn. You probably already have lots of connections out there willing to help you. They’re just waiting for you to tell them how!

Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.