Once you move beyond the generic “add connections” option that LinkedIn has, you might want to specifically search for and increase your connections with people aligned with whatever connection policy you might have. The challenge is that restrictions exist within LinkedIn that may prevent you from inviting others you don’t personally know. You are entitled to try to connect with people without knowing their email address, but once five people respond to your invitation to connect by nothing that they don’t know you, your ability to connect will be restricted. So how to network on LinkedIn?
This is especially important because it is very difficult to message 2nd and 3rd degree connections.
Once you’ve decided to connect with professionals that aren’t part of your network, chances are you will initially find them by doing advanced people searches. If you are already an experienced user, you’ll likely encounter people you might want to connect with everywhere on LinkedIn. These people often appear on the “people you may know” widget that is featured prominently in the top right-hand corner of your LinkedIn home page and in group discussions. So, once you find someone with whom you’d like to connect, follow these guidelines to complete the connection:
1) “Read” the profile: A LinkedIn profile says a thousand things about someone’s attitude toward online professional networking, and by thoroughly reading the profile, you can determine how active a particular user is on the website. In general, the more active people are on LinkedIn, the more they will understand the value of business networking and thus the more willing they will be to connect if you send a personalized invite. This is especially the case if they are a LinkedIn LION or Open Networker.
2) Warm leads are always the best: As in real life, how to network on LinkedIn is all about introductions through a “warm” lead, someone your target connection actually knows who can make a personal introduction on your behalf, often leads to the greatest success. Rather than relying on a cold call or email, get in touch with the person who connects the two of you and ask him or her for a formal introduction. If your targeted user is a third-degree connection, find someone who could facilitate an introduction between you and a person who is actually connected to your targeted user. Your eventual goal is to be introduced to your second-degree connection who can then facilitate the introduction with your third-degree connection.
Read all 5 steps and the complete Neal Schaffer article