You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

First impressions matter.

Most of the LinkedIn requests we see have the following generic template:

Hi Siya,

Hope you’re well! My name is Neel, and I’m an incoming master’s student at [university] majoring in [said major]. I wanted to connect with you to learn more about your company and your role there.

Thanks in advance.

When a working professional sees this, their first impression of the sender is that they are lazy. This question doesn’t need to be answered by a person; it can be answered by a web search engine.

When you reach out to someone for the first time, do not ask for favors in the first message.

You should merely focus on getting connected and slowly establishing a relationship. A better version of the previous message is as follows:

Hi Siya,

How are you? I’m so excited to let you know that I’ll be pursuing my master’s at [university] starting this Fall. I plan to learn a lot from this experience, especially from the students who’ve been through it. For now, I’d love to connect with you and follow you on your professional endeavors.

This tells the other person that you’re excited and hope to speak to them someday, but not yet. For now, you just wish to follow their posts and keep up with their future endeavors. Be sparing in asking favors when you haven’t begun your graduate school. Use this time to reach out to people you wish to speak to, both current students and alumni, once you begin your studies.

However, even this seems a little generic. Let’s see an even better example:

Hi Siya,

When I was reading your article on diversity & inclusion, I noticed that you too were the head of your university’s SWN chapter. I had the best time working with my team of 20. I’m beginning my master’s this fall at [university]. I’m so excited and would love to connect with you and follow your journey.

Now, that’s a message most people would respond to.

Unlike the first two messages, this one shows the receiver that you spent some time learning about them before blasting an invite. You will be able to find a common ground in most cases in the form of past experiences. Even if you don’t find a commonality, at the very least you can make a comment on one of their recent posts or articles.

Keeping Your Network Engaged

Jonathan Javier,* the founder of Wonsulting and a LinkedIn influencer, says, “Put your community first because when you do, you’ll build a foundation of friends who will support you no matter what.”

Most of the posts made by Javier garner a huge, engaged audience, sometimes viewed by over 100,000 people. That is because he uses the platform to share his personal stories, mostly of his struggles, while ending each with a takeaway for the reader. Unlike many influencers, he also takes the time to respond to the comments on his posts and engage with his audience.

thinkThe advent of social media has given all of us a microphone through which we can broadcast even the most trivial thoughts we have to the entire world. Spend some time thinking about the kind of message you want to relay through this medium.

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