Contacting a Stranger Online

You’ve found a company that you would like to target for a job.  You’ve done all of the necessary research, but you are missing an inside scoop.  By using websites and social networking tools, you have managed to identify someone within the organization who may be able to give you that personal connection.  However, since you don’t know this person, you don’t feel comfortable asking them for help.  Here are some guidelines to assist you when contacting a stranger online:

Choose people based on their position.  When you are choosing a person to contact, select someone at or near the level of position that you are targeting.  If you contact somebody significantly above or below your level, they may not be able to assist you.  Whereas, if you target somebody roughly at your level, they are more likely to be able to give you the information that you need.

Make sure that your spelling, grammar and profile are perfect.  When you are contacting someone you don’t know, you need to make sure that your spelling and grammar are impeccable.  Keep in mind that this is the only way that they are able to evaluate your skills, and your level of professionalism.  Strangers are much less forgiving of errors than people who know you.  Also, when you contact a new person, there is a strong likelihood that they will check out your social networking profiles.  Make sure that they are ready to display you in a positive light before you attempt to contact a new person online.

Be direct about what you want.  When you are contacting a stranger to ask for assistance, you need to be clear about what you want them to do.  It is annoying for you to contact someone with a vague request for help.  The person may be more than willing to assist you, but not know what you want.  It is your responsibility to do the work to determine how this person can help you.

It is better to ask for advice.  Don’t ask a stranger for a job.  When you ask for a job, you essentially end the conversation, as they will usually respond by referring you to the human resources department.  It is better to ask for information or suggestions.  Most people are willing to offer their advice, and since they are working in the company, their advice is valuable to you.

Don’t expect too much.  Remember that this person doesn’t owe you you anything.  It would be perfectly understandable for them to say that they are not able to help you.  Be thankful for any advice or assistance that you receive.

It can be intimidating to ask for help from somebody who you don’t know.  However, if you contact them in the right way, most people will be willing to assist you.  Be respectful and appreciative, and sooner or later you will get results.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to people.  That inside scoop could be the edge that you need to get your target position.

(Written By:  Karen Bivand, Photo From: jannoon028 /

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