Why Nobody Responds To PhDs On LinkedIn

Two new people sign up to LinkedIn every second. Every. Second.

This is according to a recent LinkedIn earnings report.

A similar report showed that LinkedIn now has over 347 million users total.

report by Social Times shows that 94% of recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to vet job candidates. As a comparison, only 65% use Facebook and only 55% use Twitter.

What does this mean?

It means that LinkedIn is your best chance of making a good first impression online. It also means that the competition is growing fast.

It’s getting harder and harder to get noticed.

Connecting with someone is a negotiation. You’re trading value for value.

Few professionals are willing to connect with PhDs on LinkedIn. This is because these PhDs are approaching people from a position of need. They’re approaching from a position of weakness.

Nobody respects weakness.


Hiring managers, recruiters, and working professionals in general are not running a charity. They’re running businesses. They’re managing careers. Time is money. Attention is money.

Why should anyone give you their money? Because you need it? So what.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that people owe you their time and attention just because you need it. Need doesn’t matter. Value does.

Stop connecting with people from a position of weakness. Stop asking “What do I need?” and start asking “What value can I give?”

The first step to correcting a problem is identifying why it’s happening. Once you know why you’re getting a negative result, you can try something new. You can implement a better strategy.

If that strategy fails too, all you have to do is keep testing. As a PhD, you know this.

When it comes to LinkedIn, test and tweak your message until they are being opened every time. Most importantly, pay attention to what tends to leave your messages unanswered.

The following are the 5 most common reasons PhDs get their message ignored on LinkedIn.


5 Common Errors PhDs Make On LinkedIn

#1 They don’t know how to ask for introductions

Blindly reaching out to people who you’ve never met is a waste of time.

They don’t know you.

They don’t care about you.

However, they might care about someone else.

Dig in and see if the people you want to connect with know someone you know.

Don’t just stare at those little 2nd and 3rd LinkedIn connection icons that appear next to people’s names when you’re searching and do nothing. Wake up and click the “shared connection” link.

See who you and your desired connection both know. Then, ask your shared connection for an introduction.

Or, ask to use their name as a connection request reference.

Once you get the okay, reach out to your desired connection using the name of your shared connection in the subject line of your message.


#2 They never mention why they are connecting

Never send a message without using the word “because”.

When it comes to connecting with someone new, intent is not enough.

What doesn’t matter.

Why does.

Why are you reaching out? Why do you want to connect?

The reason you’re connecting should be explained in the very first sentence of your message. Most importantly, this reason needs to be to the other person’s benefit, not yours.

#3 They write a monologue

Limit your messages to 50 words.

That’s it. Not a single word more.

Imagine a stranger coming into your office and sitting down next to you at your desk while you’re working.

The stranger starts talking about himself, his hopes, his dreams, and all of his little career goals.

He talks and talks and talks about himself …15 minutes go by and he is still talking.

How annoyed would you be? My guess is very annoyed.

Yet, this is exactly what most PhDs on LinkedIn do when they reach out to other professionals. They send five paragraph essays talking about themselves and then act surprised when the other person never responds.


Stop writing novels.

Your first LinkedIn message to someone should NOT be the same length (and density) as the Introduction section of the last peer-reviewed paper you authored.

Tighten it up. Keep it short. Keep it simple.

50 words. No more.

#4 Their subject lines are boring and self-indulgent

Messages with clever, general, ambiguous, and/or self-indulgent subject lines get deleted.

Simple, specific, and personal (about the other person) subject lines get opened.

First and foremost, whenever possible, mention the name of a mutual connection in the subject line.

Otherwise, write something that’s specifically related to the other person’s interests.

The key is to use 5 words or less. If it’s your first message, add the words “quick note” or “quick follow-up” at the end of the subject line.

Most importantly, stop trying to be overly clever in your subject lines. This will turn the other person off …forever.

Make your subject lines simple and concise, NOT “intelligent” “witty” or “ironic.” Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness.

#5 They forget to ask a “P.S. question”

If you want a response, ask a question.

Too many PhDs think that writing a message to someone entitles them to a response.


People should help you just because you wrote a message asking for help? How arrogant are you?

Listen, no one owes you a response. You have to earn a response. You have to ask for a response.

The best way PhDs on LinkedIn can ask a question is at the very end of the message in a P.S.

Every message you send to someone new on LinkedIn should have a P.S. This P.S. be simple yes/no question.

A P.S. in a message gets read more than every other part of the message except for the subject line.

P.S. I see that you’ve been to Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go. Would you recommend going?

P.S. You mention in your profile that you’ve studied protein degradation. Is this still your field of study?

P.S. I see you just recently got a new promotion. Congratulations. Are you enjoying your new role at the company?


Ask a question. Show you care. Make it about them, not you.

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About Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D.

Isaiah is a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Cell Biology and internationally recognized speaker, bestselling author of Black Hole Focus, and a top Fortune 500 consultant. He is an expert in the biotechnology industry and specializes in helping PhDs transition into cutting-edge alternative career tracks.

Isaiah is the founder of Cheeky Scientist, an industry training platform for PhDs who want to become confident and successful industry professionals. Follow Isaiah Hankel and Cheeky Scientist on Twitter.