This CEO wasn't in need of a new head of marketing when she hired one in 2012, but a cold LinkedIn message changed her mind.
Following a Women 2.0 conference, Elliot Bell reached out to Kathryn Minshew, cofounder and CEO of the career advice and job listings site The Muse, in a message that Minshew later went on to publish in her book, "The New Rules of Work."
While slightly out of place, I attended the Women 2.0 conference yesterday with EatDrinkJobs and had the chance to see you pitch. I was blown away by you, your team, and most of all, your company.
I spent six years at Seamless.com, working closely with amazing leaders like Jason Finger (who you know well). I see such amazing potential in your company, and I would love to be a part of it in any way. My primary focus in marketing, with a lot of experience marketing to the same corporations and users you seem to be attracting. I'd love to tell you more about how my skill set could help you all reach and exceed your current growth goals.
Congrats on all your current success. Again, I'd love to find a time to chat more about the company and tell you how I could help.
Bell went on to work for The Muse for four years, explaining in an article for the company that he wasn't even in job-searching mode when he wrote it — so he had no materials prepared.
"People often say that you can’t use social media to actually land a job, which is just false," he wrote. "I landed my job without a cover letter or resume — and even without a traditional job posting listed on a website. I wrote a message on LinkedIn (that I crafted in less than two minutes), and a month later I was hired."
In an interview with Business Insider, Minshew said that she hired Bell because his message was especially compelling. He included something personal (seeing her speak at the conference), said something nice about her (that she and her team blew him away), made his excitement surrounding The Muse (as opposed to any job) clear, shared just enough information about his background, named a mutual connection who she could talk to about him and didn't make an overboard ask like a phone call the next day.
Sending a cold message or email like Bell's is worth the shot. After all, there's nothing to lose. Either the recipient doesn't respond or they say no.
On the other hand, "the person on the other end might be just as excited to find someone to work with," Minshew told Business Insider.
The Muse details a formula for cold messaging on LinkedIn successfully. The key steps:
Be sure that your message has a clear and concise title so that the recipient knows what you're writing for. You don't want them having to do guesswork.
"Before you write the message, ask yourself: How do I know this person, and why am I reaching out to him or her?" the article recommends.
Always introduce yourself in a cold message. If you have a connection, mention it. Likewise, you can make the introduction personal by acknowledging their work or their company's work.
"When you see someone you don’t know well but are hoping to speak with, you usually give him or her a one sentence background: 'I’m Sara — we met at the 10th-anniversary event' or 'I’m Sara, and I loved your latest blog on climate change,'" the article reads.
You want to explain why you're reaching out quickly, so it's best to keep your message short and sweet.
"When it comes to emails, the shorter the better," the article recommends. "People are time-crunched, and you can lose their interest just as quickly as you got it if you segue from a pithy intro into a drawn-out monologue of why you should be connected or a lengthy recitation of your resume."
Always say thank you and be sure to leave the message on a note that clearly and succinctly explains your intentions or ask.
"The last two lines of the message are your closing moment — think the 'I look forward to hearing from you' at the end of the interview," the article explains. "You want to be gracious, but also make sure it’s clear what you’re asking for."
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.