How awesome would it be if you could connect and engage with any brand – or more specifically the people behind the brand – at any company you were interested in? LinkedIn actually gives you that opportunity.
Here is a five-step process you can follow that will enable you to find, connect, engage and hopefully do business with any person, brand or company you want to work with.
The easiest way to find the “Gateway” people that can get you access to a Company is through the Company search on LinkedIn. You can search for company employees either in the Advanced Search or in the Smart Search by clicking on “Company” and typing in the name of the company that you are interested in working with.
In the Advanced Search you can also search by current or past employees (or a combination thereof!) And it will pull up everyone at the company who is in your network, either as a 1st level connection, second level connection (friends of friend) or people you share a group with. Some other folks will show up as “LinkedIn Member” and these folks are usually outside of your network.
If you do the search from the Company page, you’ll need to click on “People you may know” to see everyone.
Once you get your search results, see if you have any 1st level connections. You will be able to just send those individuals a message. These are your gateway people, and it’s perfectly okay to ask them who they might know who you could talk to about blogging or what other kind of work you want to do with the prospective Company.
If you are not directly connected to anyone at that company, you can still get introduced to 2nd level connections by people you share in common. From their profile click on the “down” arrow to the right of “Send InMail” to get introduced. Both parties will see the introduction, so be tactful.
You can also filter by people you share a group with. If you share a group with someone on LinkedIn you can easily send them a message through that group. Just open the LinkedIn group that you share, click on the “Members” tab (not the Search tab – that is too logical), and then in the search box that shows up, type in their name.
As you move your cursor over their name you the “Invite” and “Message” links will magically appear (if they have not disabled them). And then you can simply invite them to connect or send a message. In fact you might send them a message asking if they’d be willing to connect with you!
If all else fails, you can use LinkedIn InMail – that allows you to message people you are not connected to. But this will cost you $10 with the free account.
One final method, if you have a premium account, is to save the person to your contacts (by click on the Relationship “star” under their) Once they are saved, click on the “Connections” tab and then sort by “new”. You will see the profile of the person you have just saved and from their you can invite them without having to go through the usual “How do I know them” hoops. This feature alone, IMHO, makes the Premium account worth it!
So now you have several ways to engage with the gateway people at a Company you want to work with. Once you are connected you can continue to nurture the relationship. I recommend doing your research on the individual and then in the Relationship (star) field, make notes on what they’re interested in, what they’re talking about, or anything else you know about them.
If they have their Twitter handle listed, click on that link (which is yet another way to connect with them!) Read their profile. Check out their web links. See what they are interested in and sharing. See what you have “In Common” on the right side of their profile page.
In the relationship field you also have the opportunity of making notes and “tagging” the individual (these are private, they can’t see them). You can also set reminders! So set a reminder to get back in touch with them bi-weekly or monthly and just send them the information you think they will be interested in. If you were looking for a blogging job with them, it would behoove you to write or share a previously written blog that speaks to their interests or concerns!
Do this enough times, and not only will your connection begin to feel like they know, like and trust you, but they’ll get a very good sense of your writing style. And it’s not too long after that, that you might be getting a phone call to write an article or even manage their blog for them! While I can’t guarantee this will work every time, you’d be surprised at just how effective it can be.
The steps again are:
- Do a LinkedIn search either through company or advanced search. Reach out to the individual, either through a message, introduction, InMail or invitation, from their profile or from a group.
- Begin the conversation (make sure it’s not a pitch fest – be genuine)Nurture the relationship by researching your prospect, making notes, and setting a reminder to get back in touch.
- On a regular basis (biweekly or monthly) send them content you think they will be interested in. Especially if it is your own!
Final Step – decide which of the many offers rolling in that you want to roll with!!!