On the days I long to take a break from my cold call introduction spiel, I turn to LinkedIn. If you’ve heard of LinkedIn, an online business networking site, but aren’t sure how it works, there are a couple of recent articles that describe it here and here.
Now don’t get distracted and forget to come back! I want to explain how I’ve used LinkedIn so far to snag two introductions to high-level hiring people.
First, establish a network
After a networking event, I email the people I’ve exchanged cards with. But instead of using regular email, I use the LinkedIn invitation feature to follow up and invite them into my network. I make sure to type a personal note to them, instead of just using the default template text. Even if the person doesn’t have a LinkedIn account, they’ll still receive the email and perhaps have their curiosity piqued enough to sign up.
The benefit of LinkedIn is that if the person accepts your invitation, you and they have a more tangible reminder of your connection. And you also have access to their network of contacts.
Second, request introductions to hiring people
Use LinkedIn to search for hiring people in your target industry, like so:
“creative director” “web development”
For each search results (i.e., hiring person), LinkedIn lists the degree of relationship you have with that person. For example, a 3rd degree of relationship looks like this:
You >>> One of your contacts >>> Target Person’s contact >>> Target Person
At this point you can use your contact – the one with the sweet connection – to help provide an introduction to the target person. The benefit here is that because you’re using a “trusted network” to reach your targeted person, he or she is more likely to accept your invitation.
So far I haven’t scored any projects using LinkedIn, but of the four introductions I’ve requested, I’ve received two immediate acceptances (one from a VP and the other a Director of Marketing), with one of them requesting writing samples. If I’d gone the more traditional route of calling or regular email to reach these same people, it would’ve taken me longer to reach the same result.
Frequent guest contributor Mary McCauley-Stiff is the owner of 5 Star Writing, Inc. You can find some of her other posts on The Marketing Mix here and here, and of course, you can find her on LinkedIn here.