(this is a guest blog by Scott Allen, author, blogger, columnist and a really, really cool guy – his bio is at the end of the post… Thanks Scott!)
I kicked off a group blogging project last week called Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn. As you might guess, I have a couple of my own. One of my favorites is to use LinkedIn to fill out your schedule for your business trip. You’ve probably been in this situation, right?
You have a business trip planned, but you have some blocks of free time while you’re there, and you want to make good use of it by meeting some new people, preferably that are relevant to your business, or meeting up with some people that you’ve perhaps only met online. Maybe a former colleague or classmate lives there and you didn’t even realize it.
There are a couple of ways that LinkedIn can help you with this.
For starters, do an Advanced Search. Choose the industries and/or enter keywords that will help identify the people you’d like to meet. For location, select the “Located in or near:” option, then choose the country you’re visiting, and the zip code, if available/applicable. I recommend changing the sort order to “Degrees away from you” instead of “Keyword relevance”. You’re going to have better luck setting up meetings with your first-degree contacts (perhaps you only know them virtually, or just weren’t aware they were living there) and second-degree contacts, to whom you can get a direct and timely introduction, than third-degree contacts with the possibility of a weak link somewhere in between you and them.
Review the profiles, pick the ones that look most interesting and promising, and send an introduction request, saying that you’re going to be in town on such-and-such date and would like to meet them.
Now this approach pretty much puts the selection process in your hands. Here’s another approach that leverages relationships even more.
Search LinkedIn and/or your contact management system for one of your direct contacts that lives in the area. If you’re searching LinkedIn for them, look for people with a fairly decent number of connections, let’s say 200+. They don’t have to be a mega-connector, just someone who’s actively using the system. Alternatively, they don’t even have to live in the area, maybe it’s someone in the industry in which you want to meet people, or just someone who you know to be a good networker and whose opinion you truly value.
Now, contact them, explain your situation and ask for their assistance. Ask them to perform a search basically like the one above. The difference here is that instead of you perusing dozens or even hundreds of profiles, they can quickly scan down their list of 1st-degree contacts and know, without even looking, which people would be a good connection for you. They can simply copy the names of those people, which are hyper-linked to their profiles, and paste them in an e-mail to you.
You are now looking at a much smaller list of people that has been intelligently selected by someone who knows both you and them well, rather than just relying on a search engine. Pick the ones you want to meet and send an introduction request via LinkedIn. It only takes your friend a few seconds to forward each of them.
Having done this for a couple of other people, I can tell you it takes less than five minutes, and I welcomed the opportunity to help a friend with very little risk or effort.
Have a great trip!
(From Jason: if you have a blog you might want to consider writing a post about LinkedIn for the group blogging project – there are over $4,000 in prizes! Click here for the details – tomorrow is the deadline. My post is here.)
Scott Allen blogs at Linked Intelligence, “The smart source for all things LinkedIn.”He is coauthor with David Teten of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first guide on how to use Web 2.0 tools to achieve your personal and professional goals.