Having trouble networking on LinkedIn? Try this.


All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Is this your LinkedIn profile? You’ve put in the time to get your headshot and entered in your professional history. You even have a number of contacts.

But it’s like, now what?

 What the heck do I DO with my profile?

 How do I reach out to people for “informational interviews” to learn about different types of jobs?

 How do I connect with recruiters and current and past employees of select companies?

It’s no joke that something as seemingly simple as sending a message on LinkedIn and asking for help, can feel harder than performing brain surgery.

Why? For starters, if you’re doing brain surgery, someone has (hopefully) showed you how to do it.

You didn’t just wake up one morning saying, “I’m going deep-sea diving in the corpus callosum. What fun!”

Since we’re not taught how to use LinkedIn, and it involves reaching out to strangers (scary) and asking for help (scarier) I’m going to give you one of my favorite ways to break through this barrier.

But before I jump into how to do this, I want to look at the root of the resistance to networking on LinkedIn

Let’s say you want to message a physician who’s transitioned into a nonclinical sector. You’re excited and want to learn more. You’d love to talk to this physician and do an informational interview.


You don’t know this person from Adam.

You can’t imagine why this person would want to talk to you.

You worry that he/she will think you’re clueless.

You aren’t sure what to say in your message.

You don’t want to be ignored or rejected.

No wonder it’s more fun to clean the garage, pay bills, or talk to your mother-in-law than to write a networking email.

No one likes to receive cold calls, and no one I know likes to make them.

When we reach out to people on LinkedIn, we want to avoid cold calling.

We can “warm up” our potential connection in a variety of ways, but today I’m focusing on using your alumni network for finding warm connections.

Because you’ve done so much schooling and training, your institutions of higher education can be an excellent place to start.

If you want to talk with someone in pharma, medical writing, healthcare, expert witnessing, or anything else, first search your alumni network (college, medical school, residency, etc.) to find people to reach out to.

People on LinkedIn are much more likely to speak with you if they feel some type of connection to you.

In my LinkedIn talk at SEAK, I gave the following example – I wanted to speak with a physician who was working for UnitedHealth as a medical director.

If I search on LinkedIn for “UnitedHealth Medical Director” I get 15,657 results. Wow!

How do I decide who is most likely to say, Yes! I’ll talk with you Heather!?

When I search on my alma matter, putting in UnitedHealth Medical Director – 10 alumni come up!

To get to this result I entered into the main SEARCH bar:

Oberlin College (School) > Alumni

I typed in “UnitedHealth Medical Director” while on the alumni page.

10 results came up.

I clicked on the profile of someone whose photo looked friendly. When I read this physician’s profile, I confirmed that she was a medical director at UnitedHealth.

To my surprise and delight, I also saw that at Oberlin College she took Art History and Dance. Bingo!

I had taken Art History and Dance too.

So instead of sending out a bland generic message, like Hi, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn, I instead mentioned how excited I was to have found her and the things we had in common.

She responded very quickly to my initial message.

We ended up having a lovely chat on the phone and she mentioned another medical director whom she thought could be a good connection for me. Having these inside connections helps me better assist my physician coaching clients.

Other ways you can find “warm” connections is to search for physicians in the same specialty, geographic location, or those who have similar interests.

Don’t be discouraged if you reach out to 10 people and you hear back from one.

A lot of people miss their messages or don’t check them often.

Don’t take radio silence personally. Keep at it. It’s kind of like panning for gold.

When you find that special connection, it’s like finding a treasure.

The right person can open doors for you and make this process easier and more fun.

And before too long, you might be that person a fellow physician is reaching out to for advice.

I’d love to hear your stories of success connecting with your alumni network – or with anyone on LinkedIn.

Happy treasure hunting!

Be back soon,


PS. If you missed my last post, 5 key tips to jump-start your LinkedIn profile, you can read it here. 


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  1. Terri Malcolm on November 9, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Heather – your advice is worth its weight in gold! It gave me a new perspective on creating connections through LinkedIn. Thank you for easy to follow steps that one can immediately put into action.

    • Heather Fork on November 9, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      Terri! I’m so happy this blog was helpful for you. You made my day. I like the gold reference too! Let us know what treasures you find when you’re panning for gold on LinkedIn. Heather

  2. Frances Morales on May 22, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    wow incredible tips, I just try your suggested search and it work, will have not though about it on my own. Thank you!!!!

    • Heather Fork on May 24, 2021 at 3:35 am

      I’m so glad the post was helpful for you Frances! I find LinkedIn to be a powerful networking platform and love sharing tips and tricks. Your feedback is so appreciated.

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“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

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“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

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Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

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Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

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Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

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Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

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Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

- Yuri Shindo, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
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"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

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Family Medicine
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"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO