Connecting to Others
Using Linkedin to connect with others would seem to be the obvious benefit, but what is the optimum approach for connecting to others? Linkedin can be used in the “open format” whereby you can extend invitation to all your business contacts. The theory behind having more connections gives you more opportunities to reach key people who may benefit your business. If you truly want to gain business form Linkedin it may be better to have a larger, more diverse contact list.
If you choose to be an open net-worker you can download the Outlook toolbar and invite all your Outlook contacts to join. You can also import contact lists from other accounts such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, and Gmail. But be aware, your limitation is 3000 connections before having to upgrade to higher version of Linkedin, which will include an annual cost. Also, if five people click the button in your invitation that says, “I don’t know your name,” your account will be disabled and you will have to call Linkedin to get your account reinstated. The reason for this limitation is to prevent spammers from gaining access and using Linkedin for shady purposes.
Six Degrees of Separation
Everyone has heard the phrase “six degrees of separation,” but how does that relate to your Linkedin account? Your contacts are your first degree connections. Below that are your second and third degree connections. You can see how many people are in your three degrees. For instance I have 34 first degree connections and 1000 second degree connections. They are friends of my connections. And through an introduction to a second degree contact of someone I know directly, I have access to 68,500 people who are my third degree connections. You can view these statistics on the bottom of your Linkedin home page. There are all kinds of impressive statistics when you click on the button, “View full network stats.”
I have access to the email address of my first degree contacts and their contacts (second degree) but even though I can view the profile of all 68,500 people in my third degree I can’t see their email address. I would have to contact the person I am connected to, explain why I need to connect with that third degree person and ask them to pass my request to their contact (second degree connection) and they would pass my request to that person. The downside is this process could take a couple of days, but at the same time it should carry weight as it is coming from a reliable source – one of their direct contacts. This is the reason why it is beneficial to only add people to your network with whom you are comfortable and who are reliable. But even there are a couple of small drawbacks, you still have access to potentially thousands of people you previously wouldn’t have known existed.
I will address the advantages to using the Recommendations, Groups and Answers features of Linkedin in Part 3 of this series.