So you have a LinkedIn profile, but who should you connect with?
My recommendation has been to connect with anyone you have something in common with. You will realize quickly that you have more potential connections than you thought. The value is this: the more connections you have, the more access you have searching on LinkedIn. It expands your second-degree connections. Second-degree connections can help you find someone at a specific company, someone with a certain skill set, etc.
One of the main reasons I love LinkedIn is because it makes my network accessible and visible to others. I feel a great deal of gratitude when I can help others by offering them the gift of an introduction. I have used second-degree connections to help me in many ways. I am going to share four stories with you on how a connection has helped me or others, along with four lessons you may find useful as well.
I asked for an introduction.
In my previous role, I was responsible for new business development. I was targeting specific CFOs and came across a CFO, Mike, that was a great target for our services. He ended up being connected to one of my brother’s ex-girlfriends, Cara. (Luckily, that relationship ended with a friendship.) I reached out to Cara to introduce me to Mike. She agreed, so I shared with her my motive of connecting with him. She wrote a very simple note to him building my credibility and sharing my reason for wanting to connect. He responded very quickly that he would be happy to have a conversation with me. He ended up becoming a client, and admitted at our meeting that had Cara not introduced me, he would not have accepted a cold call or LinkedIn note from me because he didn’t think he had a need for our services.
Lesson: It is very valuable to have a common connection send a warm introduction for you.
I found someone with common interests.
I came across a woman that was a VP of a major corporation who had written an impressive article about her journey as a female executive. I liked an article that a former colleague of hers had shared, who was a common connection to me. I then sent her an invitation to connect. She accepted my connection and we have had some great email conversations since. She has encouraged me to write my first personal blog that is also about the value of mentoring/networking. I would have never had these conversations without having the courage to reach out.
Lesson: By connecting with someone, you may find they are happy to share their advice/expertise in an area that you are interested in.
I used the LinkedIn features to my advantage.
The advanced search tab is one of my favorite features of LinkedIn. With this tab you can search by different skills, job titles, keywords, and locations—it’s no different than what recruiters are doing. I have used this in the past to find someone I had a need for in my company, and I ended up finding what I call the "unicorn of accounting hires." She was in a tenured position at a firm and was not looking to make a change. I sent her a LinkedIn message, mentioning that I wanted to set up a quick call with her to introduce myself and our firm, find out more about what her future career goals are, and to see if there was any interest in discussing an opportunity at our firm. We set up a call and we hired her a month later. She had a skill set and background that we would have had to pay a recruiter at least $10K to find.
Lesson: Use the advance tab feature to find talent or a person you may need for your organization. A personal introduction from someone at the hiring organization vs. a recruiter may end up landing you a better hire.
I use my brand and connections to help others.
As my network has grown and I have become more active on LinkedIn, I've created a brand for myself as a connected individual who can make key introductions for others. I am an adjunct professor at a local university, and have offered many students of mine to connect with me and let me know if I can ever help them with an introduction to someone in my network. I have helped many individuals, both recent graduates and experienced professionals, receive introductions and ultimately jobs. It feels good to be able to offer your help in connecting others. After all, life is all about paying it forward, right?
Lesson: "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." – Zig Ziglar
Feeling inspired? Change your outlook on connecting in 2018 and check out this article by Adam Grant, author of "Give and Take."