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Getting the Conversation Going: 5 Effective LinkedIn Icebreakers

Utilizing resources on LinkedIn is an integral component to any successful job search, but eliciting a genuine response from someone on the periphery of your network (two or three degrees of separation away) can be challenging. How can you maximize the chances that you get noticed by the person you are trying to contact? Below are five quick tips that should help you break the ice with your target.

How to Work Your LinkedIn Connections Ask for an introduction from someone close to you
If the connection you share with the person you are targeting is a close friend or colleague, by all means ask that friend or colleague to introduce you over e-mail. Better yet, ask if your friend would be willing to arrange a phone or face-to-face introduction.

Reference clear, specific objectives to your inquiry
Articulate the exact reason for reaching out to someone through your LinkedIn network. Write it clearly and succinctly on the subject line. You are more likely to generate a quicker response from someone if he can see exactly what you are looking for right away. Whether it’s to ask for an informational interview, cup of coffee or further referral, ask for it straight away.

Leverage your alma mater
If you share a common educational background with the person you want to reach, there may be no better icebreaker outside of a direct, personal referral. However, if you don’t come from the same school, your alma mater can still make a difference. Maybe your schools were in the same conference, region or program type. Look for any commonality that would catch the attention of the person you are pursuing.

Research your contact thoroughly

Perform a simple Google search on your target contact before reaching out to him. Once you do get in touch, show him that you’ve done your due diligence by talking about an interesting activity or achievement you’ve discovered about him. This approach can make a lasting and flattering impression that may make him more likely to help you along.

State all of your connections up front
The more people you have in common with someone, the better for breaking the ice. Perhaps you have already actually met through friends of friends at parties or social events and just couldn’t remember. Any way you can show your contact that you are familiar with his or her network will get you “in” with him and can lead to a productive conversation.

Applying these tips does not take a lot of effort, just a little investment of time and thought. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, so why not take advantage?

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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