We’ve all heard the term “Six degrees of separation” in reference to the fact that we are only six people away from someone we want to meet.
LinkedIn has made it possible to connect to almost anyone in the world, remember you can see your 6 degrees of separation through your LinkedIn network if you simply become a detective and follow your connections. You can start by either inviting someone directly to your network or find someone to introduce you. If you are trying to meet someone of influence that let’s say you want to do business with, you will want to be smart about how you connect, if not you risk losing the one chance you have to make a great first impression.
First impressions these days start from what we learn about someone online – yes, living in a digital world has us showing up online first.
Step 1 – Manage your LinkedIn profile
Nothing says “unprofessional” more than an incomplete and outdated profile. This could include an old photo or unprofessional photo, a dismal headline that isn’t interesting or complete. Another flag is little to no description in the summary section which actually allows 2000 characters. This is where you want share your career story. What makes you credible, interesting, what you solve for me and why I should connect with you.
Completing all the sections including those that are optional will show someone who is interesting, has character and might make a great connection. A professional LinkedIn profile will attract the right connections and help you lead from a position of influence and credibility.
You can learn more about perfecting your profile by downloading. “10 Steps To a Great Profile.”
Step 2 – Search for people you want to meet
Who do you want to meet? Search by name – that is easy enough unless the name you are searching for is common. You may want to used the advanced search feature and where you can refine your search by things such as title, company, city and then if you have a premium account your can refine your search even further with function, seniority level, company size and when they joined LinkedIn.
Step 3 – Find a warm connection
Doors are more likely to open when we have someone to make an introduction. So after you have located the person you want to meet, look for anyone in your network that shares that connection. On the right side bar of the profile LinkedIn shows you how you are connected. How do you want to be introduced? Be thoughtful before asking your connection, but by all mean do it. After all, this is what networking is all about.
Step 4 -Do some homework on the person you want to me
Read their profile for heaven’s sake!
I can always tell those people who have never read my profile and I find that a big turn off. If you want to connect with me at least take the time to learn something about me! LinkedIn is a great platform when used strategically and if you are prospecting it is even more important that you learn how to be a detective and learn about the person well before you want to ever pitch them on your product or service. There are ALWAYS ways to get into conversation with someone, you just have to do the intel work to uncover the ways. I always mention something I have read in someone’s profile because it immediately lets them know I have paid attention and took the time to read. I look for clues for how to connect. Where did they go to school, what causes do they care about, what were there recent status updates about, do they have other social networks listed – all of these are clues. Looking at other social networks is a great way to follow conversations the person may be involved in a learning what they care about and if they have a problem you may have a solution for. This is called social selling where you put relationship building first.
Step 5 -Ask for an introduction
Only after you have done your homework, ask the right person to make an introduction. The right person would be someone who actually knows the person you want to be introduced to. I point this out because we all have connections we don’t really know. We all know how much more effective it is when we have a true mutual connection. When asking for an introduction be specific as to why you want the introduction, it makes it so much easier for the person to actually want to introduce you if you explain why.
Step 6 – Send a personalized message
How many default invitations do you receive a week? Like most of us this is still common on LinkedIn. Unfortunately this won’t endear you to anyone or make that all important first impression. By taking the time immediately to let someone know why you want to connect you will typically get a better result that is if you don’t simply try to sell someone your product or service in the first message.
The first message should be an introduction, perhaps mention who you have in common and let the person know you would like to get to know them better. If the person is active on LinkedIn mention something you like in their posts and also take the time to research their profile. Mention something specific in their profile that can get the conversation going. Perhaps they support the same cause you do, or you are members of the same organization such a Rotary or you share an alma mater. Make your first message short and get to the point.
Your follow-up messages are what is important here. After the person accepts your invitation it is a great next step to welcome them to your network and again mention something personal or something you look forward to connecting with them on.
See Your Six Degrees of Separation on LinkedIn and Grow Your Online Presence
According to LinkedIn “When looking for an introduction to someone you may not know yet, you will now not only see “who” in your network knows them on their Profile, but also “how” they know each other to help you decide the best contact to request an introduction from.”
Yes, we are truly 6 people away from the one person we really want to meet, it takes uncovering the route to that connection that matters.
I would love to know someone you have connected with that you never imagined possible until you found someone through your network who made the introduction. Please leave your comment below.