Get Closer to Your Career Goals: Virtual Networking Edition

Social distancing has put career fairs, conferences, and interviews on pause, but school is still in session online and graduation is a go. The COVID-19 crisis might have even interrupted your internship or career plans, but there are tons of ways you can keep your goals on track from home. Networking is one of the most effective strategies to advance your career search. Expand your network with limited social contact by sliding in the DMs (on LinkedIn). Here are some do’s and don’ts for writing a cold message that’ll get a response.



1. Don’t be shy. (The 6-foot rule doesn’t apply on LinkedIn.)

Stay six feet away from other people but get up close and personal with their LinkedIn inboxes. If you’re anxious about moving out of your comfort zone, start small and draft one message. Search for a professional with a role or experience that interests you.

2. Don’t be vague.

If you’re looking to make a meaningful connection, never send a connection request with the automated message. The auto message might look lazy or thoughtless. Do your research and mention something relevant to the recipient. For example, reference a mutual alma mater, professional experience, or prior meeting at an event.You miss 100% of the shots you don't take

3. Do keep it simple.

Most professionals that you’re admiring probably don’t have a ton of time or energy to spare chatting in their DMs. The art of the perfect cold message is finding the balance between being specific and getting to the point. Try to keep it under 100 words.

4. Do be direct.

Now that your message is specific and simple—what’s the point? Be direct and say what you’re looking for. Advice? A phone call? A conversation over coffee? If the recipient knows what you’re asking, they’ll be much more likely to give an answer.

5. Do make a great first impression.

Your first impression is everything in a cold message scenario. This isn’t an opportunity to tell your life story or the details of your resume, so a first impression is pretty much all you have time to show off. Test your message on a trusted coworker, friend, or relative and ask about their first impression of your message. Was it too wordy? Too informal? Any spelling errors? Most of all, strive for a professional and genuine tone.

6. Do be gracious.

Remember, you’re asking a stranger for a favor. Always be sincere and thank the recipient for his or her time. It’s important to be direct, but never be too forward and ask for a job (that might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised).

7. Don’t give up.

Your requests might be turned down or ignored—and that’s okay. If you’re not making mistakes or facing rejections, you’re not doing enough! Take the rejections as lessons learned and keep going. If the 100th message turned into a dream opportunity, weren’t the other 99 tries worth it?






There's still plenty of ways to stay productive in building your career. Keep an eye out for the rest of our Get Closer to Your Career Goals While Social Distancing articles.