These 5 Cold Networking Phrases Can Get You One Step Closer to Landing Your Dream Job

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Becca Carnahan1.11k
Career Coach & Mom of 2
April 16, 2024 at 12:39AM UTC

Did you know that at least 80% of new jobs are landed through networking and referrals? Yes, 80%!

But that doesn’t mean you need to go to an awkward mixer holding a tiny plate of cheese while wearing a name tag and shaking hands with strangers in order to land your dream job. (Yikes, I just got the heebie-jeebies thinking about that…)

Instead, you can network from the comfort of your couch if that’s more your style and use these cold networking phrases to get you one step closer to landing your dream job!

1. I read your article on XYZ and was fascinated by…

If you don’t know someone at your dream company, or you don’t know someone who knows someone, that’s fine. You can use the tools at your disposal (read: the internet!) to forge an authentic connection with a hiring manager or recruiter you’ve never met.

Why this works: When you show a genuine interest in someone’s work, work they presumably put a lot of thought and effort into, you are showing them respect and opening the door for further conversation on a topic you know is interesting to them. The key point here is further conversation! That’s what we want, to open the door and build a relationship.

Be interesting by being interested and see what content (articles, podcasts, videos) people at your target companies have created, and then make it a point to engage.

2. I’m a fellow alum of ABC University. Go Eagles!

Remember back in the day when your university admissions office touted the alumni network as a benefit of attending? Well, the time to tap into that network is now!

Why this works: At times, cold networking can feel like trying to break down a metal door, but common ground can be like a magic key! Even if it’s been years since you attended school, or you never met the person you’re reaching out to, sharing an alma mater can be a powerful bond builder and help you stand out in a crowd of other messages.

Try going to your university’s LinkedIn page and clicking on “Alumni.” From there, do a search for people who work at your target company or in your ideal industry. I’ve seen this strategy work for folks time and time again. Give it a go!

3. Do you have 15 minutes for a call sometime in the next two weeks?

There are a million reasons your cold networking email might be ignored that have nothing to do with you. Life gets busy! So take one factor out of the equation and make it easy for the person you are connecting with to say “yes.”

Why this works: Let’s break this phrase down into two parts to show you why it works. 

1) Asking for a short and specific amount of time allows someone who schedules their life in half-hour increments a chance to say “Just 15 minutes? I can squeeze that in!” You can gain a lot from a 15-minute conversation and schedule more time if it goes well.

2) Giving a specific timeframe (sometime in the next two weeks) allows someone to look at their calendar and suggest times that work for them. While it might feel like you’re putting pressure on the situation, you’re actually simply giving structure that people will generally appreciate. Alternatively, they might send you a calendar link back which is great too!

4. I’m sure your inbox is filled to the brim so I wanted to send a follow-up.

You sent your first email a week ago and no response. You could let it go and lament a missed opportunity to connect with someone at your dream company, or you could take two minutes and follow up!

Why this works: Are you being a squeaky wheel by following up a week later after you haven’t heard back? Sort of. But you know what they say about squeaky wheels… they get the grease. Or in this case, a response!

Plus you are actually being helpful by sending a follow-up. If you caught someone at the wrong time with your first email and they meant to respond but forget, you are easing their mental load by giving them a gentle reminder. Why do you think we have reminders on our computers, phones, and Alexa devices? Because they are helpful!

5. How can I be helpful to you?

One of the reasons people tell me that they hesitate to network is that they feel like they are using people. I like to flip this around for them and say “Would you want to help someone else out if you could?” They always say yes. Ah, there’s the mindset shift. Plus you can take that mindset shift to the next level with this important phrase.

Why this works: Whether you deploy the “How can I be helpful to you?” in an initial outreach when you’re asking to speak with someone or in a follow-up after a networking conversation, this phrase packs a couple of punches:

1) The guilt you had about asking for help starts to melt away because you are offering to return the favor. Ah, the sigh of relief!

2) You are furthering the conversation and deepening the relationship when you offer to extend help back to someone and they accept. Now your one-off conversation turns into multiple conversations, you are both benefiting from one another’s network/expertise, and you’re no longer just a name on a list of applicants. You’re a real person, with a real relationship with someone at the company, and you’ve already added value. Ta-da!


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Becca Carnahan is a career coach, author, and mom from Massachusetts. As the founder and CEO of Next Chapter Careers, LLC, she specializes in helping parents land fulfilling jobs they love without giving up the flexibility they need. Signup for her free job search training at

What networking phrases have helped you overcome the networking nerves and build connections? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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