Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Formula to (actually!) Use LinkedIn... and an Answer to the Classic Puzzle

This post will be rough but I wanted to share a formula for using LinkedIn.

Background: I want to start having some conversations on the Linkspank contest sponsorship program. To get various industry perspectives and advice, I need to make some connections.

The Formula:

1. Have a purpose.
Most people on LinkedIn don't have a purpose for networking. Which is fine (unless you ask the Never Eat Alone guy). But you need a purpose to do this - getting a job, hiring someone, or in my case, setting up chats with people to get advice.

2. Search for the people you want to contact. E.g., I want to speak to someone from Orbitz, so I search LinkedIn for "Orbitz."

3. Sort your search by degrees of separation from you and throw out everyone higher than degree 3. They are too far away. InMail, referrals, all that stuff on the site - not going to help you with these guys (or anyone).

4. For each person you'd like to contact... (we'll call that person the "match")
a. Visit their profile and confirm you want to contact them.
b. See on their profile page which of your contacts connects you DIRECTLY to that person.
We'll call that person the "connector."
c. Contact "the connector" and ask if that person is willing to send you the "match"'s contact info, and also to send an email to the "match" mentioning as much.

5. Contact the "match" by phone and email...
and do whatever it was that you were setting out to do.


(i) Referrals on the site don't seem to work too well.

(ii) Anyone further way than 2 is not really reachable. Who gives a fuck if the CEO is your mailman's chiropractor's husband?

(iii) Observation (ii) gives us our answer to the Classic Puzzle - "who is worth adding as a contact on LinkedIn? Is it worth it? Why am I always logging in just to approve requests and then leave immediately?"

"What is the point of this crap?" Answered!

Answer: connect with someone if you know them enough to ask them the favor in #4. Which is not really all that well - you don't have to have worked with the person. But it's a good reason to build your network with acquaintances who you respect and know a bit about.