In a recent post, I detailed how I search and find people on LinkedIn, in today’s post I will cover how I reach out to for networking conversations. Many LinkedIn users are frustrated because the system seems to prompt them to “Upgrade Your Account” whenever one tries to reach out to a fellow LinkedIn user, and while the tips below will not grant you access to the 125+ million people using LinkedIn, the tips will help you reach more people than before.
- Mutual Contact: When I was in college, the “Kevin Bacon” game was popular; name any actor/actress and see how many movie connections it would take to get to Kevin Bacon (rumor was 6 movies connections to tie in any living actor/actress). It was a variation of any of the ‘degrees of separation’ games or theories. LinkedIn taps into this concept, the system will tell you how many degrees you are separated from the person AND who are the common links between you and the other individual.
- 1st Degree: you are connected with that person, you know and trust this person and can view their email address through their profile (right hand column).
- 2nd Degree: you and your target individual share a common friend. LinkedIn will show you the name of the common friend – reach out to the mutually shared contact to ask for an introduction to your intended target. Think of this outreach as an individual introducing two of his/her friends who have not yet met.
- 3rd Degree: you are two steps removed from your intended target; a friend of a friend of a friend. LinkedIn will prompt you with the first step, whom you know who you should reach out to start the outreach, and the system will prompt each person in the string whom to contact as the request is passed along. The system will not show you who the latter steps are the process prior to reaching your intended target in order to maintain privacy.
- Out of Network: LinkedIn cannot find any connections within a third degree, or Group connection, and thus believes you are too far removed from that individual to be passed along. However, the system will allow a user to email an “Out of Network” contact if the user upgrades his/her account.
In my experience, my success rates take a significant dip between the 2nd and 3rd degrees of separation. Second degree contacts, where I share a mutual friend with my intended contact, generate a 70-75% success rate in my experience. Most individuals are willing to take a call or meeting from me when a contact of their’s is the broker of the introduction. The third degree outreach is only met with a 10-15% success rate in my experience. I may be doing something wrong, I just find the lack of common connection hurts when navigating the LinkedIn system. If someone is generating a better that 20% response rate from outreach to 3rd degree contacts, I am all ears to hearing your techniques!
2. Group Members: LinkedIn allows users to communicate with fellow group members, although navigating the system is not intuitive. When one completes a search and generates a list of possible candidates to contact, LinkedIn will indicate if you have any shared groups in common. By selecting the link or viewing the individual’s full profile, you can learn which group(s) you have in common with your target individual. To contact a fellow group member:
- Access the shared group page: by selecting the group via the GROUP tab, clicking on the shared group icon or hyperlink, the shared group’s homepage will open in your browser.
- Select the “Member” tab: when you select the “Member” tab, the system will allow the user to search the group membership list by name. You will want to search for your intended contact through the left hand side search box.
- Send a Message: once you have filtered the membership list and see your target, place your cursor over the entry. This should highlight the entry and on the right-hand side, the “Send a Message” link should appear. By selecting this link, you will be able to email the individual.
- Inbox: a copy of your message will be saved on the system. You can access the email by selecting the INBOX tab and choosing the ‘Sent’ link on the left hand side.
These are two ways one can reach out to fellow LinkedIn members through the system. There are other ways to tap into these individuals – Googling the person, searching for the individual on an alumni database, etc. – and one should use other avenues if/when the initial outreach efforts yields no response.
Finding people via LinkedIn, Contacting people via LinkedIn, next topic is Communicating with people via LinkedIn.