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LinkedIn vs Email to cold reach out for networking?

networking Referral program at MBB
New answer on Apr 05, 2024
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 01, 2024

3 questions:

1. What is the best way to cold reach out to network with consultants. Email or LinkedIn? I’m starting to think that email might just be better because consultants check their email way more often than LinkedIn, but it can also come off a odd/creepy if no one referred me to email the person or the person didn’t give me their email. But at the same time, if you have previous contacts at the firm, you can certainly just guess their email address with the pattern. 

2. If I am applying for an entry-level role at all firms, should I be networking with Analysts/Associates or people who are more senior (Project Leader or Manager), with the end goal of landing referrals in each firm? I know the more senior the person, the better, but almost none of the more senior people seem to respond to my LinkedIn request. 

3. For example, if I ask for a referral from someone at McKinsey’s Miami office, but I’m applying for the LA office, will that referral still work? 

(edited)

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Best answer
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 02, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

1. What is the best way to cold reach out to network with consultants. Email or LinkedIn? I’m starting to think that email might just be better because consultants check their email way more often than LinkedIn, but it can also come off a odd/creepy if no one referred me to email the person or the person didn’t give me their email. But at the same time, if you have previous contacts at the firm, you can certainly just guess their email address with the pattern. 

LinkedIn.

Email takes forever.

You need to think about efficiency here. You don't have all day to look up/type emails!

How long would it take to find each person, guess their email, write the email, etc.? What's your hit rate….

2. If I am applying for an entry-level role at all firms, should I be networking with Analysts/Associates or people who are more senior (Project Leader or Manager), with the end goal of landing referrals in each firm? I know the more senior the person, the better, but almost none of the more senior people seem to respond to my LinkedIn request. 

Everyone. and then play tag.

If people aren't responding it's because you're doing it wrong…you should have someone check your messages. I have a fodler where I keep all the bad and good messages I've received - the majority of messages I get I do NOT respond to because they are poorly done.

3. For example, if I ask for a referral from someone at McKinsey’s Miami office, but I’m applying for the LA office, will that referral still work? 

Yes.

 

Please consider this course…a tiny investment and you'd be surprised to learn all the things you didn't know (e.g. what you're doing wrong currently): Master Your Job Hunt with Proven Strategies 

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 02, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

These are amazing questions.

And I've already written two guides on this that help explain the methodology of leveraging LinkedIn for networking:

Now, taking your questions one by one:

1. What is the best way to cold reach out to network with consultants. Email or LinkedIn? I’m starting to think that email might just be better because consultants check their email way more often than LinkedIn, but it can also come off a odd/creepy if no one referred me to email the person or the person didn’t give me their email. But at the same time, if you have previous contacts at the firm, you can certainly just guess their email address with the pattern. 

Don't write them an email directly. I had people writing to me like that, guessing the email address, and I found it rather creepy and spammy. 

Go for LinkedIn. That's what professional networks are for. 

Or, even better, if you know somebody in the firm, have them introduce you over email to the person you're targeting.

2. If I am applying for an entry-level role at all firms, should I be networking with Analysts/Associates or people who are more senior (Project Leader or Manager), with the end goal of landing referrals in each firm? I know the more senior the person, the better, but almost none of the more senior people seem to respond to my LinkedIn request. 

The added benefit of getting a referral from somebody more senior is minimal, and not worth the effort. You should just aim to get a referral from somebody who is at least at the same seniority as you. That's it. 

3. For example, if I ask for a referral from someone at McKinsey’s Miami office, but I’m applying for the LA office, will that referral still work? 

Theoretically, yes, because it's still in the US system, but it's stronger if it comes from the office that you're applying for.

Best,
Cristian

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Apr 02, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) What is the best way to cold reach out to network with consultants. Email or LinkedIn?

I used emails when I had to network to get into VC (which is more competitive than consulting) and it worked well for me (I got around a 30% reply rate).

I chose emails over LinkedIn for the following reasons:

  1. One fewer click for the receiver to see the message. Unless they have notifications active from LinkedIn, if you send a message via LinkedIn, they will get an email from LinkedIn and then they have to click on it to, so one more step.
  2. I could edit the subject to increase the open rate. The subject line is very important and you don't have that flexibility on LinkedIn.
  3. If you have a connection with the person (eg alumnus of same school) you can use it to “justify” the email. It won’t look creepy as you are from the same tribe (or at least, I got a good reply rate regardless!).

It is very easy to find the email of someone, so it took me almost no additional time to do it compared to LinkedIn. I actually liked that it took slightly more effort to get an email than sending a LinkedIn message, as that meant likely less competition through that channel.

This doesn’t mean you cannot achieve good results with LinkedIn, but emails worked so well for me that I did not feel the need to try something else.

Please be aware that, regardless of whether you use email or LinkedIn, the content of the email matters and will impact the response rate.

2) If I am applying for an entry-level role at all firms, should I be networking with Analysts/Associates or people who are more senior (Project Leader or Manager). Almost none of the more senior people seem to respond to my LinkedIn request. 

I would recommend targeting Manager and above if possible. You don’t need to send a request first, just send a well-crafted email. Please be sure that you share something with the person (eg same school) as otherwise the reply rate will be low, regardless of the channel.

3) For example, if I ask for a referral from someone at McKinsey’s Miami office, but I’m applying for the LA office, will that referral still work?  

Yes, you can be referred by someone from another office.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 05, 2024
Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

1) 
It seems to be a personal preference. I would be more responsive to receiving LinkedIn requests because I could see the other person's profile as well. If I just received a message to my work e-mail, I would very much de-prioritize it because it is rather anonymous to me and I'm usually busy with my project work anyway. But there have been good arguments made for both scenarios I guess

2 + 3)
A referral is just a door opener such that the recruiting team will look through your application more thoroughly. Depending on the seniority, tenure and advocacy of the person referring you, you have a better chance of getting a first round interview. The more senior (manager level and above) the person referring you is, the better. The longer the tenure of that person with the firm is, the better. 

The reason is that such voices carry more weight than referrals coming from super junior or brand new people. They typically know the HR folks better and have been involved in recruiting activities for a while so it is usually assumed that they have a good grasp of what types of candidates with which sets of qualifications the firm needs. But any referral is better than no referral.

Ideally, you get a referral from someone from the same office (or same country) you are applying to. But again, a referral from someone within the same firm but different country organization is still better than no referral.

A direct rejection after the CV screening stage can still happen - even with a referral. In that case the HR team usually provides some feedback to the person having given the referral. So you should follow up with them to better understand the rationale in case that happens. On the flipside, you can still get an interview invite when you just apply online without a referral - the probability is just lower on average, especially when your CV is not stellar.

And as always, factors such as economic conditions and headcount/budget planning of the individual firm also matter significantly in these decisions - but they are not within your control.

Best

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Apr 03, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Private Equity | Market Estimates | Fit Interview

1. Unless someone gave you their email, or a third party provides an introduction, you should use LinkedIn. Otherwise yes, it is creepy. By the way, if you use linkedIn, they receive an email from LinkedIn with your message, so it's a 2 in 1! :)

2. Any referral works. While a more senior rank may be preferrable, it's not a huge difference… what really matters is to get that referral, so go to the ones that reply to you.

3. It will. But please understand that it will seem strange that you are talking to someone at Miami but want to get in LA… there has to be a reason for you to reach out to the Miami person. Also don't ask directly for a referral. If you ask for it you won't get it. They have to volunteer it. :)

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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