People often think that the power of your LinkedIn network is in your direct connections. But actually, your most valuable asset on LinkedIn isn’t the people you know… it’s the people that they know. They are what LinkedIn calls your 2nd-degree connections (friends of your friends) and 3rd-degree connections (the friends of your friends’ friends).
By capturing these 2nd and 3rd-level connections, LinkedIn provides you an amazing resource that you can use to gain new clients, new vendors, and new partners. In the past these connections were “hidden” – you wouldn’t normally sit down at someone’s desk and flip through their Rolodex with them. Now, however, that’s exactly what you can do. You can find the exact right people that you want to meet and find out how you are connected to them. This is especially useful with your 2nd-degree connections; it’s the same as having your friend introduce you at an event you’re both attending.
Even better, before you get introduced to them, you can research their profile to make sure that they are the right person to approach. You can even take this a step further and use the LinkedIn Search function and organize the results by relationship so that the 2nd-level connections are listed first. Want to find all the CPAs in your area who are your 2nd-level connections? That list is only a few clicks away.
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to get introduced to a 2nd-level LinkedIn connection, you have a few options. You can always reach out to your 1st-level contact by email or phone and ask if they could introduce you. But there’s an easier way that’s built right into the LinkedIn platform; unfortunately almost no one knows about it so it’s rarely used. There is a “Get Introduced” button that you can use on your 2nd and 3rd-level connections’ LinkedIn Profiles to start the introduction process easily and quickly. Here’s how you do it:
Right next to the grey “Send InMail” button there is an arrow that opens a drop-down menu. Hover over it and choose “Get Introduced“. This option will only be available if they are in your network – meaning that they are a 2nd or 3rd-level connection.
Choose which LinkedIn connection you would like to use for the introduction. The system will give you a choice if you have more than one. Obviously, if you have a choice of introduction paths, choose the connection with whom you have the best relationship to give you the introduction. That increases the likelihood that they will send the introductory message on to its recipient.
Craft a quick message for your 1st-level connection as well as the message that you would like your connection to forward. LinkedIn actually gives you some great advice in the message box. State your intent – don’t make people try to guess (and don’t try to pull a bait n’ switch). For example, if you would like to get introduced because you’re selling something that you think the recipient could use, say that. Also, give an out – there are a lot of reasons that the person might not want to introduce you, and most of them have nothing to do with you. You don’t know what they relationship is between the introducer and introducee, so make it easy for them to decline.
A simple message could go something like this:
“Hi Bill, would you mind introducing me to your contact Sue Smith. She works at Company XYZ and I’m looking to work with them. I was hoping she might be able to help me with some insights into their marketing needs. If it’s not a good time and you don’t feel comfortable passing on the introduction, that’s totally OK. Thanks!”
If you use this feature on a regular basis, you will be able to expand your network past your immediate connections and create some amazing opportunities with people who are just one step removed from you. They are out there – go meet them!