LinkedIn Inmail Vs. Cold-Emails for Networking / References?

informational interview linkedIN networking Referral
New answer on Nov 07, 2021
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 04, 2021

Hi all. I'm planning to apply as an experienced hire for consulting firms (US) over the next 6 weeks. 

I intend on contacting former business school alum that are currently working in target firms (some are direct friends, but most are simply new unknown contacts I found on LinkedIn). My goal here is to informally network over email, then lead them to a phone call, and subsequently ask for a referral.

I've heard conflicting information about the best approach for reaching out to people not already in my network: 

  • Some people have recommended signing up for LinkedIn premium and sending InMails to target contacts. 
  • Others have suggested sending out cold emails to those people (by either looking up their firm's email format and taking a chance with their email format/name, or some other unknown method).

I've found varying suggestions on different forums. But I'm curious whether anyone here has had luck with either of those approaches above. And if you used the email method to make initial contact, how did you source your target's actual email?

Any other informational networking advice would also be appreciated :)

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Florian
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replied on Nov 04, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

I'd recommend you not to cold email people with the firm format for two reasons:

1. If they haven't introduced themselves, it's creepy and suspicious (''where did he get my email from?'' + MBB is very wary of phishing, spam, etc.

2. Consultants get tons of emails per day and need to prioritize as they work through them. Random requests are at the bottom of the pile

Due to those 2 reasons, cold emails are mostly ignored, especially by more senior colleagues.

Rather, approach people via Linkedin. Why?

1. It's a level playing field. They get to see who you are,  common connections, etc.

2. They get much fewer Linkedin requests than emails

Try to target people with a similar background, e.g. same school, same previous employer, same hometown, etc. This increases the likelihood that you will receive a positive reply.

Cheers,

Florian

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Francesco
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replied on Nov 04, 2021
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Hi there,

Q: I've found varying suggestions on different forums. But I'm curious whether anyone here has had luck with either of those approaches above.

I would recommend emails, they convert better if you have the right script / target the right people. It's the approach I used and it worked pretty well. However, if you have a weak script and target random people they won’t convert much.

You can find more at the link below:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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replied on Nov 04, 2021
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Hi there,

Honestly, I'm not sure! I can see pros/cons for both.

What I'd recommend is to actually do both! Try it out in a 1st round/phase (5-10 emails and 5-10 LinkedIn messgaes) and see what the hit rate is. Then, focus on the tactic that seems to work best…basically run your own experiment :)

Quick note: For anyone you email, if they don't respond, do try to follow-up on LinkedIn after a week or two. They may not have gotten the email. (Of course, intro yourself by apologizing for double-messaging)

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Hagen
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replied on Nov 04, 2021
Current Bain & Company Project Leader and interviewer | 250+ interviews conducted | 6+ years of coaching and mentoring

Hi there,

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for quite a lot of users, so I am happy to provide my perspective on it:

  • Generally speaking, while it is common practice that (nearly) graduates contact alumns working in the target industries and companies, you do not want to come off creepy. Moreover, in case you are thinking about contacting them via their university e-mail, chances are high they are not checking them anymore.
  • As such, I would advise you to contact them via LinkedIn since 1) it is very transparent for them who you are and how you might know each other and 2) you ensure the message actually reaches them.

In case you want a more detailed discussion on the best approach to receive the referrals for your desired companies, please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps,

Hagen

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Pedro
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replied on Nov 04, 2021
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

I would find that “cold email” technique to be a bit creepy. One thing is you finding me randomly on LinkedIn and reaching out. Other is someone out of nowhere trying to guess my email.

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Anonymous A on Nov 04, 2021

This was my concern as well, but I've seen countless people vouch for the cold-email method on several forums at this point, which is what initiated this question for me

Pedro on Nov 04, 2021

You can obviously say you found their name on LinkedIn, but in that case you need to have a reason for reaching out specifically to that person.

Antonello
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replied on Nov 07, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi!

The ideal approach would be to network via your school's Alumni or friends of friends.

Otherwise, I'd recommend the LinkedIn approach rather than cold emails.

Good luck,

Anto

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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