How to Reach Out to Someone on LinkedIn (Without Sounding Needy)

4 minutes

We often hear stories about Codecademy learners who land entry-level positions in tech because they used the professional networking platform LinkedIn. For example, learners have used LinkedIn to get discovered by recruiters, share updates about their learning journey, and connect with people whose careers they admire. 

But for as ubiquitous as LinkedIn is, sometimes it can feel awkward or cringey to send a cold message to someone you’ve never met in hopes that they’ll help your career. (On the other hand, receiving a vague or demanding message from a stranger can be off-putting.) Being intentional about how you phrase your LinkedIn message can boost your chances of getting a response and lead to meaningful connections. 

The key when sending a LinkedIn message is to “be interested, not just interesting,” explains Carolyn Lai Moore, Career Strategist and Founder of Wildlight. Basically what that means is you should express your genuine curiosity about the person you’re messaging, and think of ways you can provide value to the person — don’t just spew your qualifications and make the message all about you.

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Another important point: With networking, there shouldn’t be any expectations on the person you’re contacting, Carolyn says. “It’s not transactional,” she says. “And the more you can check yourself on this, the more you’ll avoid sounding needy or desperate.”

Ahead Carolyn breaks down how to send an effective LinkedIn message, including lots of examples to help you get started. Want even more LinkedIn tips? Carolyn is hosting a free virtual event for the Codecademy community all about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile and increase your visibility on the platform. RSVP for the virtual event on June 28 at 1 pm ET.

What to say in a LinkedIn message for networking

Here are some general rules that you should keep in mind when you’re sending a message to someone on LinkedIn because you’d like to network with them. 

Be specific 

Take the time to look over details about this person’s career, and think of a clear question you’d like to ask them. “People love to be seen and love to know that they are noticed,” Carolyn says. Avoid asking irrelevant questions or getting key details about their career wrong (like the company they work for), which can make a cold message seem like spam. 

Example: How’d you go from Software Engineer II to Engineering Director in just a few years?

Find common ground

“Networking is about creating community,” Carolyn says. Part of that includes embracing your own story and being true to yourself, rather than inflating your experience or background just to get noticed. See if there are any commonalities that you have with the person that can make your connection feel more authentic, she says.

Example: I see you’ve taken some Codecademy courses — I’m currently enrolled in Codecademy’s Front-End Engineer career path and am hoping to change careers.

Provide value

A common networking mistake that folks make is only reaching out to people when you need something, like a reference for a job or someone to review a project you coded. Think about the ways you might be able to provide value for the person, but remember that networking shouldn’t be transactional, Carolyn says. 

Example: I noticed that you’re looking for folks to contribute to your open-source project. I’d love to help out somehow! I’m focusing on projects right now so I can get experience and build my portfolio.

With all those tips in mind, here’s an example of a message that a dev we’ll call “Codey” might send to a career switcher who they found on LinkedIn and works in cybersecurity:

Hi [person’s name],

I stumbled upon your LinkedIn profile recently and I have to say, I am blown away by your career journey. Your achievements and impact in tech are beyond impressive, and I couldn’t resist reaching out to connect.

I’m interested to hear more about your career path, specifically how you changed fields from healthcare to cybersecurity, and the experiences, challenges, and pivotal moments that shaped your professional trajectory. 

I’m trying to follow a similar footprint to your career: I’m learning to code with Codecademy with a goal of getting a job in cybersecurity or IT by next year. I’m brand new to the tech industry, and I think I could learn a lot from your wealth of experience. (And it’s always inspiring to hear the stories behind people’s success!) 

If you’re open to it, I would be thrilled to connect with you and have a chat. We could grab a virtual coffee or chat via messages — whichever works best for you. Hope to hear from you soon.

All best,

Following these tips won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get a message back when you contact people on LinkedIn, but it could improve your chances of a response. And who knows? That connection could lead you one step closer to your dream job in tech.

For even more expert LinkedIn advice, don’t forget to RSVP for Carolyn’s event about how to get seen on LinkedIn, happening on June 28 at 1 pm ET. (Insider tip: Brush up your LinkedIn page ahead of the event, because Carolyn will do a live audit of select LinkedIn profiles during the event!) 

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