LinkedIN Connection Tips
Most people view LinkedIn as a site for job seeking and for recruiters or companies to find talent. It is so much more than that. LinkedIn has some very valuable resources that if you are a little creative you can find just about anyone that you can imagine. Now this may require you to be a little stealthy in some cases, but if the ultimate goal is to meet a particular individual, LinkedIn is your key to success.
Let start at the beginning.
The first thing that you need to identify is who you are looking for. In some cases you may know the name but in other cases you may only know a company and job title. Either way you will be able to quickly identify the person of interest. So let’s just assume that you are in a sales role and you are looking for travel manager at a leading pharmaceutical company. I think that everyone realizes that you search on the company and find the person with the job title and viola you have the person of interest. But there is so much more.
First LinkedIn will show you how (and if) you are connected to this individual. The way that LinkedIn works is that you have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection. This isn’t much different than the six degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon. It is amazing how many people that you are connected to by the 3rd degree. In my case it is more than 15 million people. Now, if you are connected by a 1st degree it means that you are directly connected to this person and that you can reach out to them directly. In an ideal world you know this person but that is directly dependant on your criteria for accepting connections in LinkedIn. If you accept every request (known in LinkedIn terms as a LION – LinkedIn Open Networker) than there is a possibility that you are connected to them but may not actually have a relationship with them. This is okay. Because they had to accept you as well and they are in the same boat so don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
If on the other hand you see that you are a 2nd degree connection, this means that someone you know, knows them. Here is where the power of LinkedIn really helps. LinkedIn will show you who you know that knows that person. At this point the best thing to do is to ask the person that you have the 1st degree connection with for an introduction. Now the key here is not to be stalker like. There are some very successful ways to do warm introductions but that is for a different blog. Once the warm introduction has been completed, you can engage directly with the 2nd degree connection and of course invite them to connect so that they move from being a 2nd degree to a 1st degree.
Now here’s where LinkedIns power cannot be matched. If you have a 3rd degree connection to that person, LinkedIn will show you which 1st degree connections that you have that know a 2nd degree connection to get you to the particular individual. Yes this means there is some work involved but we shouldn’t shy away from a little work. Generally, I will call my 1st degree connection and ask them to pull up their LinkedIn and let me know who they have in their network that is connected to the target person (because for them it is a 2nd degree connection and they can see how they are connected). This works amazingly well. First it gives me an excuse to reach out to old friends and I am not asking much, just a quick introduction to someone they know. If I am lucky, I might know this person but not be connected at which point I just connect. If not I follow up on the warm introduction and have a conversation with this person so that they can get to know me a little and I let them know up front that I need help with a warm introduction. You would be amazed how accommodating most people are in helping you.
Once you have this introduction, you can reach out to the individual and let them know the purpose of you reaching out. Again, I cannot emphasize this enough, it is easy to get people spooked using these methods so you need to move slowly and be transparent. People still believe that they have a fair amount of privacy and so many times if you try to push this too quickly and go for the hard sell it will push them away and may close a door on you. Remember that you are not doing this to produce revenue for today, but rather to build relationships so that you may have a lifelong customers.