Often, during conversations with students and other job seekers, I sense some hesitation to connect to interesting, but unknown, people on LinkedIn. I hear arguments like: `This person is probably busy enough` and `He/she surely doesn’t enjoy to be bothered by someone who they don’t know`.

But what if you would have the chance to connect with them? Wouldn`t a chat with this person be a great opportunity to get insight to the industry or company they are working for? To see if the company or the job fits you? Or maybe it even reveals opportunities for jobs or internships that you wouldn’t have found online.

Let`s turn it around – For example: you receive a message from a student. You have a shared connection and he/she is interested to connect. Are you open for a 15-minute chat?

It probably also depends on the WAY this person asks you to get your attention.

Some suggestions WHY people accept invitations and how you can convince them to have a short conversation - even if they have never met you before:

  • A shared connection

Search by keywords. Look for second line connections and who you both know. Ask the shared connection if you can mention his/her name in the invitation. This will give you a warm introduction, which increases the chance to succeed. Having a shared connection is the #1 reason people connect.

  • A shared interest

Further you can look for a shared interest. For example:

  • Check out the Alumni section of the University of St. Gallen and search for keywords or a company name. Alumni are very likely to respond, because you have a common background.
  • Follow people that share interesting content and react on the article they posted.
  • Join a group. Once you are in, you can send messages (without a premium account) to all the group members.

Ask in your invitation if you they would have time for a (virtual) Coffee to exchange about these topics.

  • You have something to give

Look for content (articles, posts, connections) that the person you would like to talk to, might be interested in. For example, you recently read an article in a course. This person may be too busy to read all articles, therefore your up to date knowledge may be interesting to them.


  • Be genuinely interested

People in general like to get recognized, talk about themselves and the things they do. Ask specific questions. Find a topic this person (or company) knows a lot about and is also of specific interest to you. For example, how has your work changed over the last months? This shows you are genuinely interested. This might be contagious.

  • Ask for advice

People like to help. It makes them feel good. They are flattered because you need their advice. Do not ask for jobs. Not even in the conversation. If you like what you hear about the job or the company, you could ask: `What is your advice how to proceed, when I would like to work at…?`

  • There may be a need for an employee or intern

Last but not least, the person you are writing to could actually be looking for an employee or intern for the company. Although you do not ask directly, you use the question above and they will mention it, if they have anything available. 

Now, let’s do it! HOW can you write an appealing invitation message?

Here are some examples:

  1. When connecting to a second line connection:

Hi John, through (shared connection) I heard about the interesting work you do for XYZ in project management. I am in my last year of my Master’s degree program at HSG and I am writing my thesis about agile methods in project management. Would you be open for a (virtual) coffee and chat about the recent developments in project management? Kind regards, …

  1. Connecting to a LinkedIn member for a shared interest:

Hi Tamara, I came across your profile and I see we share going to HSG! Currently I am finding out on what it takes to start working in HR, specifically as a Change Manager. It would be great to hear your experiences. Do you have time for a 15 minutes video talk, next week Tuesday of Thursday? Thank you in advance, best regards, …

And to be safe, you could add an escape line for the receiver, like: `If my invitation to connect comes inappropriate, then please let me know and I will not contact you again`.

Hopefully, with these tips, nothing holds you back from expanding your network via LinkedIn. It is a great way to get to know people, companies, industries and job opportunities and take the lead in your career!

Wishing you many interesting connections and an effective job search on LinkedIn.

Imera Crietee

Imera Crietee

Beraterin Student Career Services