Looking for new referral sources or strategic partners? Look no further than your LinkedIn account! You already know the types of professionals you like to network with – finding and meeting them can be much easier if you use the power of your LinkedIn connections.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Search for people you want to meet
I like to network with marketing consultants, so I search for people who use the keyword ‘marketing’ in their profiles, within a 50 mile radius of my office. I could also search by job title if I wanted to meet ‘CEOs’ or by company if I had a particular target in mind.
2. Choose your targets based on who you both know
When the list comes up, I look for people whom I would like to meet, who are 2nd degree connections. That means, we know someone in common. Rather than just reaching out with a ‘cold introduction,’ I can ask our mutual friend to introduce us.
3. Ask for the introduction
Arthur Tschopp looks like someone I would love to meet. I see that he knows my friend Mitch, so I can send Mitch a request to be introduced to Arthur. I’ll send it right through LinkedIn, because when Arthur receives it, he can look at my profile and determine whether he wants to meet me! (No use spending time networking with people who aren’t interested in you.)
Meeting new connections this way can be highly effective, BUT it requires that you know the people in your network well enough that they feel comfortable introducing you to their friends. On my LinkedIn profile, I only connect with people whom I know in real life. If I make a new connection – like Arthur – I will immediately ask them out for coffee, or schedule a phone call, so we can get acquainted. Imagine if I asked Mitch to introduce me, and Mitch and I didn’t really know each other – that would be no more effective than cold-calling Arthur myself.
A lot of people get focused on having the most connections, and the largest network – but remember, some of LinkedIn’s most valuable tools can only be effective if you are well-connected, meaning your connections know and like you.
Reid Hoffman, the Founder of LinkedIn says it this way:
“It’s better to be the best connected, than the most connected.”