Noob question: What exactly to say to alumni/recruiters while reaching out to them on LinkedIn or elsewhere?

This might be a very noob question, but I'm new to this.

So, if I reach out to an alumni/recruiter or someone in the industry, what exactly do I talk about?

Should I talk about my backgrounds, skills, and interests or ask them about their job?

Or, should I ask them directly about openings in their firm, and ask their help to secure an internship? What approach works best?

Background: - Experienced Software dev, currently in grad school looking to get an S&T internship for summer 2020

Comments (5)

Feb 10, 2020 - 2:01pm

people don't like feeling like you are using them. sure, if we think about it, whenever a stranger contacts us, we know you want something...but humans have this thing called "cognitive dissonance" where we allow our brains to pretend that a stranger contacting us is because they like us, are impressed by us, and wants us to share some of our wisdom.

So, first you should be helping that emotion blossom. Ask your new linkedin connection for career advice. Tell them that you read xyz about something they did that you read or heard about (people always love to hear that other people, important people, were gossiping about them). This will trigger a positive emotion. Then you can ask them to share a bit of career advice with you. Ask them about something specific that they should have knowledge about. You will notice that some people will actually take some time to give you advice. Its similar to why people argue on the internet...we humans love to be thought of as leaders and influencers. We all want to be popular. We feel popular when people ask us what we think. Its a minor ego/power trip. Give this to your connection...allow them to feel powerful by being knowledgeable. Make it appear sincere...if it feels contrived, then yo get ghosted. This is a fine art of social grace. Not too much...not too little.

Then ask if they would meet with you for an afternoon coffee to chat for 15 minutes. Some will ghost you, but some will be willing. At the coffee chat, again, ask for advice on something specific, where an answer will take 5 min max, and they should be a in a position to know the answer to your question. Don't ask for facts...ask for stories. Then communicate that you really appreciate them taking the time, and THEN you can make the big ask....where you tell them that after talking to them that you are interested in joining their firm in their area, and ask if they would be willing to add your resume to the list of resumes for an interview. That's all you really want to ask want an interview. Then thank them for their time, and wind down graciously. If they want to keep talking, you should have a list of backup questions..and stories of your own. Every 15 min, offer to end the chat so you don't take up too much of their time.

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