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5 Tips for Online Conversation Starters with People You Don’t Know

5 Tips for Online Conversation Starters with People You Don’t Know May 15, 2017Leave a comment

With networking, opportunities are always connected to people.

Building new connections online is key for generating career opportunities, so put on your list: must talk to strangers on a regular basis. Here’s how:

  • Search for the professionals related to your career using key words, title, and location. Examples are:
    1. Software Engineer
    2. Project Manager
    3. Greater Boston Area
  • View their profiles, making a list of those to whom you want to connect.
  • Reach out by making a connection with a customized note based on information in the professional’s profile.  Since you ultimately want to talk to these people, make a genuine statement about what you noticed about them and your specialty, then ask for the connection (see below).
  • Once they connect, your immediate follow-up is to ask for an introduction, which we’ll cover in a later blog.

5 Tips and Sample Connection Invitations to Begin Your Conversation:

Find something in common with the person to whom you’re reaching out.  Note, however, that your online connection invitation needs to stay within the character limit of your social networking platform, e.g. LinkedIn’s is 300. Below are templates that you can adapt:

  1. Look for organizations such as schools, companies, or work experiences, that are common to both your backgrounds.  You can change the wording with your common experience and area of focus:

Hi Susan, we both had an internship with a medical non-profit.  I saw that you continued on that path. I’m focused on a training career for trauma centers and expanding my network.  Are you open to connecting?

  1.  Point out something about the professional’s company.  Read their company page updates to  find recent events and make a statement:

 Hi Jim, your summary describes your expertise in engineering and your company just won the industry design award.  My education is in design engineering and I’m expanding my network in the community.  Are you open for a connection?

  1. Mention that you know someone in common.

Karen, we’re both connected to Jim Walsh because of our work in healthcare. My education and experiences have been in hospital operations and I’m expanding my network in that community.  Are you open for a connection?

  1.  Being part of the same alma mater drums up an immediate sense of community. Try this type of connection request when you know an alum who works in the same field or at a company you’re interested in:

Greg, we both went to Ohio U as undergrads and I’m interested in connecting with alums. My education and experiences have been in journalism and I’m expanding my network in that community.  Are you open for a connection?

  1.  A potential connection is more receptive when you show that you are being deliberate when you reach out to them for a connection.  View their recommendations and point out common values:

Colin, I noticed that most of your recommendations have commented on your attention to detail.  I’ve learned how important that quality is while interning in clinical environments.  My education is in food science and I’m expanding my network in that community.  Are you open for a connection?


By personalizing your invitations, you send the message to connections that you really want to make that first step.  Since it take some steps to nurture a relationship, which we cover in the 2Actify course, you first just want to connect, not sell.

Remember, with networking, your intention to connect includes:

  • To be mutual resources for networking.
  • To introduce them to someone you know as a benefit to their network.
  • To learn more about what they do so you can learn about your potential career paths.  Many professionals love to mentor!

Focus on the outcomes of reaching out, not your discomfort of the process.  With the right mindset and practice, you’ll become comfortable reaching out!  A few positive responses always helps.

Know that others have been where you are and want to be a resource for you.

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