5 steps to connect with LinkedIn members

But first the proper ways to connect.

LinkedIn Flag

Let’s start with a quiz:

How do you connect with people on LinkedIn? Do you:

  1. indiscriminately click the button that says “Send now”;
  2. take the time to add a note;
  3. ask for an introduction to your desired contact, or;
  4. first send an email to your desired contact before sending an invite?

For many years I’ve been advising people to always add a note when connecting because…it’s the right thing to do. However, after talking with a valued connection, Bobbie Foedisch, I learned a great deal about connecting etiquette. More on that later.

Currently employed, or not, you should build up your network with connections who are like-minded and can be of mutual assistance. Let’s look at three ways to connect with others on LinkedIn.

Connecting directly

For example, if you’re going for the direct connection, your invite message might read like this:

Hello Susan.

When I saw your profile on LinkedIn, I thought it would be great to connect. You and I have a great deal in common, namely that we are in the business of helping people find employment. It would be great to connect.

Bob

Note: you only have 300 characters to work with.

Using a reference to connect

If you’re going to connect directly, you’re more likely to gain success by using a reference. This would be a shared connection—someone who is connected with you and the LinkedIn member with whom you’d like to connect.

Doing a search for a 2nd degree who resides in the Greater Boston Area and works for Philips produces the result below. Below the two people you notice the faces of the shared connections. Click on (number) of shared connections to see who is connected directly with your desired LinkedIn member.

People Search, 2nd, location, company

Once you have chosen a person who could be a reference for you, email the person asking if you could use her name in an invite. Your message might be:

Hi Dave.

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for the Career Center of Lowell as workshop facilitators. We have the utmost respect for each other. When asked if I could mention her in an invite to you, she enthusiastically agreed. I see we do similar work, that of helping others. I would like to join your network in hopes of being of mutual assistance.

Sincerely, Bob.

Asking for an introduction

Bobbie suggests that one should use an introduction when they want someone to join their network. This requires asking a trusted connection to send a message to the person with whom you’d like to connect.

Note: email is Bobbie’s preferred means of asking for an introduction because it is more commonly used than LinkedIn Messaging. Great point.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email.

Hi Karen.

I see that you’re connected with the director of HR, Mark L Brown at (town).

I’m trying to fill a director of DPW position and would like to get some advice from Mark. I read on LinkedIn that they’re trying to fill an accountant position. I like the way he wrote the job description, pointing out their diverse environment.

Thank you in advance for introducing me to Mark. If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

Andy Smith, Human Resources Generalist, 978.935.5555

PS. It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the playoffs.

Now let’s look at the five steps to finding people with whom to connect.

1. Search by people. Just click the magnifying glass in the Search field and then click People. In my case, I came up with a little less than 7,500,000 first, second, and third degree connections.

Filter People by Kathy

2. Next, select 2nd in Connections for an obvious reason; you cannot connect with your first degrees, as you are already connected. This brings me to more than 124,000

3. Now select the type of person you’re seeking in Keywords. I typed “Career” in the Keywords area in the Title field because I wanted LinkedIn to do a pretty general search for people in the career development/advisor/counselor/coach occupations. This brings my number of connections to slightly more than 7,000.

4. You probably don’t want to look for career related people worldwide. Perhaps you’re focusing on people closer to home. I am, so I got to Locations and select Greater Boston Area. I’m at 825 second degree connections now. Note: sometimes you have to type in the location.

5. Here’s where you want to narrow your search to people who are mutually connected as first degrees with one of your valued connections. In the image above, you see the first person at the top of my list shares 17 degree connections with me. I will click on one of the circular photos below Kathy to see who I can mention as a reference in a cold invite.

2nd degree connection

5. The person I’ve chosen is one who can help facilitate an introduction to the person above. The reason I know this is because she and I have had numerous conversations, and we respect each other’s expertise. In other words, I trust her.

When I type her name into “Connections of,” I come up with approximately 50 LinkedIn users who are her first degree connections. I will glance at their profiles to see if I’d like to connect with them, using Kathy’s name as a referral; or asking Kathy for an introduction.


You might think how my friend, Bobbie Foedisch, goes about connecting with people on LinkedIn as time consuming, but she has been successful using LinkedIn for social selling, and she teaches job seekers how to use LinkedIn. She has the right idea about making long-term connections on LinkedIn.

I, on the other hand, am less exact; I connect with like-minded people without reaching out to them beforehand. Whether you connect directly with a LinkedIn user or ask for an introduction, using “Connections of” can effectively facilitate the connection.

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