A Beginner’s Guide to Networking: Strategies and Templates

Networking, making new professional connections, reaching out for coffee chats, setting up 1:1s, and cold emailing can sometimes be intimidating. In this write-up, I will break the process into stages with copy-pasteable templates to get you started!

Ben Cheung
World of Cultivation
14 min readFeb 12, 2023


Last updated: February 12, 2023 — 🎉

digital art of bridges interconnecting over a city.
“Building Bridges” — Generated with DALL-E: https://labs.openai.com/s/KngL1vXc5VtUfomqdOqXaulT

For someone to start reaching out, building new connections, and cold emailing — it requires stepping out of their comfort zone, building a thicker facial skin, and getting started. With a systematic approach, getting started on your journey to build new connections and meet fascinating individuals out there can be much simpler!

What does this article cover?

  • Overview
  • Why should you network?
  • Reaching out
  • Tackling LinkedIn
  • Tackling Email
  • Coffee Chat / 1:1
  • Follow up
  • Tackling IRL/ in-person
  • Resources and Communities
  • Closing thoughts
  • Let’s connect!


Without further ado, let’s dive into an overview of each section. I’ve broken the article down into a few stages. We will cover the reasoning and motive behind networking, its advantages, and why it’s worthwhile.

We will transition into three major steps:

Stage 1: Reaching out

This stage will cover the different approaches to reaching out. The article will cover how to approach reaching out through LinkedIn and cold emailing. The approach and templates used here can also be applied to any external website or job board like YC Combinator’s Work At A Startup or Wellfound (formerly AngelList).

Stage 2: Coffee Chat / 1:1

This stage will discuss what to talk about. There are a variety of different chats to be had here such as introductory chats, inquiry chats, update chats, and more. We will discuss a few common ones.

Stage 3: Follow up

If you felt that you had vibed pretty well or you and your new connection are a great fit, it is highly recommended to follow up and further develop this connection! Follow-ups include follow-up check-ins and scheduling further reoccurring 1:1s.

Tackling IRL/ in-person

The last section, Tackling IRL/ in person, will cover some approaches and tips for networking in person.

Why should you network?

There are many benefits that can arise from networking. Networking opens doors and enables you to obtain more information or find information much faster. You can make meaningful connections, cultivate new friendships, obtain mentorship, or get referred via referrals!

The more interactions that you have with others, the more likely you will come up with interesting ideas, get different perspectives, and come across more opportunities.

Networking can be intimidating, but it’s really just going out there and meeting other people. If you are currently job hunting, the job-hunting can be dehumanizing. Meeting others enables you to create these new connections and build brand-new bridges with others. The more bridges you build, the more access you have to information and resources.

We can create an analogy. Each individual is an isolated island. Networking is the act of building bridges to another’s island.

A lot of individuals don’t network because they don’t know how to get started. We will go over a reach-out strategy that will enable you to start networking and building these bridges.

Reaching out

In this section, we will cover the different approaches to reaching out. I’ll only go over LinkedIn and via cold email. You can apply some of these strategies to other platforms like Twitter.

Tackling LinkedIn

LinkedIn reach-outs are incredibly common, LinkedIn is a platform for job seekers to discover jobs and for recruiters to scout for talent. As there is usually transparency for those currently working at companies, it makes it a great tool to reach out and get connected with those you are interested in!

To reach out on LinkedIn, there are a few preliminary stages we need to complete before we can go ahead and send our template!

A summary of the approach can be found here:

  1. Use the LinkedIn Search bar and search for your University or Organization. Target 1st-degree connections first(individuals you are connected with already before 2nd-degree connections) to reach out to. It works best if you can find individuals to whom you can relate. For example: by similar companies, universities, alumni, interests, etc. I recommend reaching out to alumni (university) > alumni/current coworkers(company) > same company > same location > random related interests.
  2. Use the filters to narrow your search and select your profile of interest. Find 2–5 profiles you want to reach out to!
  3. Complete Profile Analysis on the profile. Look at each component of their LinkedIn profile such as the Current Position, Location, Education, and Summary. You can also look into the Volunteer Experiences, Work Experiences, and LinkedIn highlights/activities.
  4. Using the information from your Profile Analysis, you can use this information to craft a more personalized invite/connection request. This should be short and to the point. The goal is to get the individual to accept the LinkedIn connection request so that you can follow up. This is also if you do not have InMail credits to send messages directly.
  5. Craft and send the personal invite. Personalize each one to each profile.
  6. Follow up. If they accept the LinkedIn request — send a follow-up message with your ask!
  7. Scheduling the chat. The goal is to schedule a coffee chat via Zoom, Google Meets, or phone. Ask to schedule and take the initiative to gather their availability and send a meeting invite!
  8. The next section tackles what to ask and some example discussion items!

Let’s dive into a more in-depth walkthrough of the steps summarized above.

LinkedIn Search to find profiles

This step is getting leads that you can reach out to. Your goal is to find profiles with relevant connections to you and with information you are interested in.

Go to LinkedIn Search and search for your University or Organization (club, nonprofit, etc.). Click on People (Company) or Alumni (University).

Example using The University of British Columbia
Example using the hackathon student club, nwPlus

Filters to narrow search

Use the filters for each page to find the company/job position you are interested in. You can also narrow your search with additional filters of your location, where they work, etc.

Example using filters to search for profiles with filters.

These results are all chances for you to network to opportunities.

Profile Analysis

I’ll only use my own profile as an example here so I don’t have any issues with posting someone else’s profile haha.

See the following sample profile analysis.

Parse through summary and location.
Parse through highlights and features to find common interests.
You should also parse quickly through the experience section. This is probably the most informative section. You can mention which experience you want to connect to chat about.
More research for commonalities with your profile. Same university? Alumni? Same club? These all will help you have a higher chance that the individual will accept your connection request or not!

Crafting and sending personal invites with templates

Great! You have a few leads and profiles you want to reach out to! It’s template time! Note that the following templates are simplified and generalized. Definitely feel free to edit and modify it to your needs. Also, rejections and ghosting / no response is common. Just connect with someone else if you get ignored.

Personal invites increase the chance that they accept your connection. It is not mandatory but is recommended. For me, sometimes I just send a connection request with no personal invite. If they accept, then I can send a follow-up message and skip this step.

With the rise of generative AI, you can probably plug in some of these to ChatGPT and have it generate some reach outs for you as well. I typically use these as it’s faster anyways to quickly type out.

Let’s dive into it.

Personal Invite Templates and Variations:

Basic personal invite:

Hi [NAME]! Nice to meet you. Would love to connect with you here on LinkedIn and learn more about your experience at [COMPANY]!

Basic personal invite (2) but more detailed:

Hi [NAME]! Thanks for doing the panel for [PANEL NAME] at [EVENT NAME]. I learned a lot and appreciate it! Would love to connect here on LinkedIn!

Basic personal invite (3) but more detailed:

Hi [NAME],
I hope your day is going well so far! I am [YOUR NAME], [CURRENT POSITION] from [COMPANY / SCHOOL]. I saw that you graduated from [SCHOOL] and work at [COMPANY]. I would love to connect with you!


Mutual connection personal invite:

Hi [NAME], I was hoping we could connect to chat about opportunities at [COMPANY]! A good friend, [MUTUAL CONNECTION] recommended that I reach out to you to explore any roles or openings that could be available for a [POSITION/ROLE]! Would love to learn about your experiences working here at [COMPANY]!

Mutual connection personal invite (2):

Hi [NAME],
I was hoping we could connect to chat about your work at [COMPANY]! A good friend of mine, [MUTUAL CONNECTION] recommended that I reach out to you to learn more about the cool work that’s happening in this space.
Thanks! [YOURNAME]

Sponsorship personal invite

Hi [NAME], My name is [YOURNAME] and I am a [YOURROLE] from [ORGANIZATION], a [MORE DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ORGANIZATION]. I was wondering if we could connect here on LinkedIn and chat about [INSERT OPPORTUNITY TYPE: sponsorship/etc.] opportunities with [COMPANY] for [UPCOMING EVENT].

Hiring Manager Invite

Hi [NAME], I hope your day is going well so far! I am [YOUR NAME], [CURRENT POSITION] at [COMPANY / SCHOOL]. I saw that you are currently recruiting for [JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY]. I would love to connect and learn more about this opportunity!


Following up.

Congrats, so the contacts you reached out to have accepted your LinkedIn connection request. 🥳🎉🎊

This is a great first step. Now, we need to follow up and try to schedule a coffee chat / introductory call. We want to humanize this connection and the best way to do it is through a virtual call.

Let’s go over some more templates and variations!

Detailed Follow-up:

Hi [NAME], Thanks for connecting! I appreciate connecting with a fellow [INSERT CONNECTION / ALUMNI / MASCOT].

I saw that you graduated from [UNIVERSITY] and work at [COMPANY] as a [JOB TITLE]. I would love to learn more about your journey from [STARTING POINT/UNIVERSITY] to your current role at [COMPANY].

Would you be down for a quick 1:1? Would love to chat!

Simplified Follow-up:

Hi [NAME], thanks for accepting my connection request! I’m very interested in your journey from [STARTING POINT/UNIVERSITY] to your current role at [COMPANY]. Would you be free for a virtual chat? Would love to listen to your experiences. Thanks!

Follow-up asking for thoughts instead of meeting:

Hi [NAME], it’s great to connect with you, and thanks for accepting my request! I was wondering if I could get some of your thoughts in regard to the engineering culture @ [COMPANY]?

Follow-up asking for thoughts instead of meeting (2):

Hi [NAME]! Thanks for connecting with me here on LinkedIn! I’m curious about your thoughts and experiences regarding your work at [COMPANY]. I was wondering if you were down to share some of your thoughts regarding work life balance, culture, and engineering /product @ [COMPANY]?

Hiring manager follow up

Hi [NAME], Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn! I appreciate connecting with a professional [IN INDUSTRY]. While on LinkedIn, I saw that you are recruiting for [ROLE] at [COMPANY]. I am greatly interested in full-time opportunities in [FIELD] because [WHY YOU ARE INTERESTED]. I believe my experiences in [RELATED EXPERIENCE] directly relate to this role and your company. Would you have a few minutes to chat regarding this opportunity? [ATTACH RESUME-OPTIONAL] Please let me know, as I greatly appreciate your time in advance.
Thank you! Best, [NAME]

These are just building blocks! Definitely modify them to make them more specific to your use case! Usually, if it’s a positive response — you can jump to scheduling a 1:1 call.

Scheduling chat.

Scheduling the chat should be pretty straightforward. Ask for their availability and then propose a time. Be sure to include the timezone!


Great! Excited to chat with you. What’s your availability for the upcoming week? I’m currently based in [TIMEZONE]. My availability is: [ADD YOUR AVAILABILITY WITH YOUR TIMEZONE].

Followup (2):

That works for me! I’ll schedule a Google Calendar invite! Could you send me your email?

Followup (3):

Thanks! Looking forward to chatting with you! I’ve gone ahead and sent you a calendar invite!

Great! We have covered how to reach out and schedule the meeting / 1:1 introductory call with LinkedIn. Let’s go check out how we can do the same thing but via email.

Tackling Email

Emailing is a similar approach. Unlike Linkedin, you don’t have to be connected to the person you want to contact to reach out. However, you will need to be able to obtain the email first from either the company website, job posting or LinkedIn profile or find it with hunter.io

Email is great for cold emailing recruiters. Example below.

cscareers has an excellent guide on how to do cold emailing for swe roles: https://www.cscareers.dev/blog/landing-software-engineer-interviews-through-cold-emailing

You can use their template/example.

I sent this one but it has a bit more details and is more specific to my situation when applying to new grad roles.

Sample cold reach-out email to recruiter.

Hi <NAME>,

My name is Benjamin and I’m currently wrapping up my final year of Computer Science at UBC. I wanted to reach out and ask about new grad opportunities at LinkedIn. I am an avid user of LinkedIn and would love to join the team. I have spoken with other LinkedIn engineers and was wondering if you are the appropriate person for me to reach out to, If not, I would greatly appreciate it if you could connect me with the appropriate recruiter.

A short introduction of myself: Currently, I’m working at Coinbase as a front-end engineer intern using React, React Native, and TypeScript. I completed internships at Riot Games (data/infrastructure), TD Bank (cloud engineering), and Checkfront (full stack development). In my spare time, I attend hackathons and organize my school’s largest hackathon in Western Canada, nwHacks. I’m incredibly interested in the problem space that LinkedIn is tackling and would be thrilled to pioneer new features.

I have also attached my resume with this email and this is my Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrbenc88/).

Thanks for taking the time time to read my email!

Benjamin Cheung

Be sure to follow up if they don’t respond after a few days with a friendly ping.

You can also send an email similar to the LinkedIn follow-up to schedule a coffee chat that way.

Coffee Chat / 1:1

We’ve made it quite far now. We have finally gotten the prerequisite tasks completed. We have found a contact and have successfully scheduled a chat. Now, this chat is your opportunity to see if you vibe, get information, and ask strategic questions.

Your focus should be to ask questions that include the following:

  • Questions that show your interest and can demonstrate you did your research about them.
  • Be an active listener and encourage asking questions that enable them to discuss more their experiences.
  • Build rapport, commonality, and a foot in the door for your ask. (example ask: referral).

Some questions:

  • I saw that you worked at <company>, how was your experience there? I’m curious about how it prepared you for your current role.
  • I noticed that you went to <UNIVERSITY>, how was your time there and how were you able to leverage that experience?
  • I saw that you interned at <COMPANY>, I’m curious about what steps you took to get to <COMPANY>.
  • I saw that you have been incredibly active in a variety of communities/projects such as <LIST PROJECT/COMMUNITY NAMES OR NONPROFIT>, I’m curious how involved you were and how they helped develop your career.
  • What was your motivation behind pursuing a <SOME DEGREE ETC>
  • I saw that you were recruiting for <COMPANY>, I’m curious what’s the best advice you would have for me to get my foot in the door?

If you feel that you vibed and the conversation went well / hit it off. You can ask for a referral directly. Be sure to mention a position that you have researched already.

You can also ask to get connected to others.

Thanks for your advice! Do you have any suggestions on who I could connect with or that you can refer me to?

Follow up

Be sure to follow up and stay connected. This is a pretty important step as the connection can evolve if you are able to effectively follow up. You can keep track of your connections on Notion or Google Sheets.

Here are some templates you can use.

Follow-up post-coffee chat:

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me! I appreciate our conversation about <INSERT TOPIC> and <HIGHLIGHT>. I would love to stay connected with you!

I was also curious if you had any suggestions on who I could connect with or any potential opportunities at <COMPANY>.

Thanks for your time and please let me know if I can be of help with anything. Looking forward to staying in touch!

Follow up — hiring manager:

Hi [NAME],
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me regarding [JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY]! I really appreciate how you spoke about [TOPICS], specifically [WHAT STOOD OUT] . I’m excited to stay connected and for what the future holds! Following-up on our conversation, please let me know if you need any additional information from me; I’m greatly interested in [FIELD/JOB] positions at [COMPANY] and would appreciate any help throughout the process. Thank you again for the opportunity and have a great rest of your day!
Best, [NAME]

Tackling IRL/ in-person

In-person would be the same approach as above if 1:1. You have more flexibility as you can approach physically and skip most steps for actually reaching out. It is essentially skipping directly to the virtual call part mentioned above. Apply the strategies above here!

At a career fair, event booth, etc. it may be a little bit different.

In general (at the event).

  • Introduce yourself and your background (20 sec)
  • Prepare questions beforehand — some can be found here.
  • Get contact info if possible otherwise get the QR code
  • After the event, send a follow-up.

Tips: https://www.uvic.ca/career-services/find-work/work-search-tips/networking-at-a-career-fair/index.php

Resources and Communities

There are many resources available for free via communities, consulting companies, and content creators regarding this topic. I’ve curated a few communities and resources that I found pretty helpful.

Closing thoughts

We have discussed the most common scenarios and have gone over some templates to get you started! You can apply these strategies and templates to other platforms as well such as Twitter (via DMs), Discord communities, and more!

Other platforms are very valuable networking opportunities as well. Crypto Twitter for example is very heavily based on the Twitter platform. With these strategies and templates, you are ready to get started!

Start small, build your confidence, and you will be able to do it easily! The more coffee chats you have, you will discover what type of questions to ask and what you really want out of each one.

Got Questions or Looking for Extra Help? 💡

If you’re curious or need some quick advice, feel free to reach out — I’m always ready for a chat! For broader queries, our Tech Career Change Discord community is an excellent resource, filled with knowledgeable folks from BCS and other programs ready to answer your questions!

Need More In-Depth Assistance? 💡

With my experience as the author of several guides popular early career/tech career transition resources and having conducted hundreds of Statement of Purpose (SOPs) and resume reviews, I’m excited to offer specialized deep dive sessions. These sessions are perfect for those seeking thorough reviews and personalized advice on applications and resumes.

👉 https://topmate.io/bencheung

Let’s get in touch!

Hi! You reached the end! Congrats on making it through this guide. I hope that it has provided some insight and can help you kickstart your journey into building connections, making new friends, and help you develop professionally!

Happy to connect with you all as well. Feel free to check out the following social links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrbenc88/

Website: http://bencheung.me/