For me the most powerful concept behind LinkedIn is that it finds the right people AND the connections you have with them. It makes the networks of the people we know visible. LinkedIn shows us our second and third degree networks and the paths towards them. This has tremendous value.
Why? Many people already have difficulty keeping track of their own (first degree) network. It is impossible to know who our network knows. LinkedIn makes this visible. This is extremely powerful especially if you start with the end or goal in mind. Many people make the “mistake” to only look in their own network when they are looking for someone to help them. In this way they are limiting themselves tremendously.
What if we start with defining the best person, find them and then find out via whom we can get introduced to them?
For example let’s suppose you are looking for a job at Coca Cola in your country (or you want to do business with them as a supplier or partner).
What most people then do is think of who they might know at Coca Cola. Then they can’t think of anyone and give up. Or they call the front desk, ask for the HR Manager and are stalled by the receptionist. Or the HR Manager says she is going to call back, but never does. Frustration!
Let’s now start with the goal in mind. You define the HR Manager as the person who can help you best reaching your goal (a job, a contract or expertise). Then you use LinkedIn and do a search with “HR Manager, Coca Cola, and your country”. The result is that you don’t only find the exact name of the person, but also the connections you share with this person.
When you then look at the mutual connections you have, you might discover that this person is connected with your neighbor. You didn’t know this because Coca Cola never has come up in your conversations. He has never mentioned anything about it and you never told him that you were interested in working for or with Coca Cola. After discovering the connection on LinkedIn and talking to your neighbor about it, you find out that he has worked together with the HR Manager in the past. When he hears about your goal he agrees on writing an email to introduce you to the HR Manager. Five days later you are invited to have a talk with the HR Manager and land the job or contract.
Without LinkedIn you might never have known that they knew each other!