LinkedIn makes it very easy for you to network with other people. At the simplest level, you can simply type in the name of people who you might know in the search box. At a more advanced level you can search for people by profession, keyword and location.
Against each result, there will either be a number 1st, 2nd,3rd or it will say "Out of your network". 1st means you are already connected, 2nd means you are connected through someone you know. 3rd level means you are connected to them through someone connected to someone you know. "Out of your network" means that they are not even a 3rd level connection.
So for example, let’s take John Smith who is a 2nd level connection. If I want to meet John Smith I could simply ask my 1st level connection who knows him to introduce me. The other way I can find people is to go to ‘contacts’ and click on ‘add connections’. Now there are two ways in which I can add connections.
The first thing I can do is log into my email through LinkedIn. LinkedIn will pick up all my contacts I am not yet connected to. The other way is to upload all my email addresses to LinkedIn. I can do this by entering all my email addresses into a box, separating each one by a comma. I can also import my Outlook contacts. To do this, just export your Outlook contact file to your desktop. From LinkedIn, click on choose file, select the file from your desktop and then import it. What will happen is that all your Outlook contacts will get an email from you saying that you would like to connect with them on LinkedIn.
If you already know these people, there’s a good chance that they’ll connect with you. LinkedIn also gives you something, an option called ‘people you may know’ and what’s it’s doing, it’s looking at people who are connected to people you already know and it’s working out that you might know these people and gives you the option to connect with them. You can also connect with people on LinkedIn through membership of various LinkedIn groups so if you’re a member of any professional associations for example, if you’re a member of the Chamber of Commerce, go into your group and see who is on there that you’d like to connect with.
So for example, I’m a member of "Company Directors Networking"; I can go onto here, click on members and see who I’d like to connect with. Again, you can see, according to the number, whether it’s a 1st or 2nd level connection, you can see how well you know them. Here’s a word about LinkedIn Etiquette.
When you want to connect with somebody, I would always recommend that you’ve actually had previous contact with that person. If they don’t know who you are, they’re not going to be interested in connecting with you. They’re also not going to be very useful to you.
So how do you connect with people who you are not yet connected with? Well, the first thing you would do is, if you are a member of this group, you might have met some of these people at a networking meeting. If that’s the case, what you can do is, you can request to connect with them. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to find a second level contact, what you do is you invite the person to connect and then you have a few options.
If you know their email address, you could put their email address in and if you’ve done business together, you have that option as well. If you are a part of the same networking group, you have that option and you can put in a customized message. There should always be a starting point, either you have chatted with this person on line, you’ve done business with him, or you know him from a previous meeting.
The better you know somebody, the more useful they’ll be to you. And that’s how to network with people on LinkedIn.