The ways to do this – and there are several – aren’t immediately obvious. That may be a good thing, perhaps limiting how often we hear from Strangers with Potentially Annoying Messages (SPAM).
(No, that’s not *really* the origin of the word “spam.”)
Who is this LinkedIn member you don’t know, but want to know? If you’re looking for a new job, he may be someone who is highly knowledgeable about your field and/or the companies in it. If you’re looking for new clients/customers, he may be a prospect, or someone with whom you could have a mutual referral relationship.
Rather than call this person your “target” – because we don’t want to be aggressive here – I’m going to call him your Prospective Professional Acquaintance through LinkedIn (PPAL).
Be a pal, not a PITA (Pain In The Anatomy). Be courteous. Make it clear what you have in common and why they might find it interesting to be in contact with you.
Here are four methods.
Message the person through a group.
If your PPAL belongs to any groups you belong to you can message them through that group unless they have switched this capability off in their Settings. If you’re not a member of the group, why not join? You can always leave the group later if it doesn’t suit you.
Here’s how to message a fellow group member:
- Click Interests at the top of your home page and select Groups.
- Click the group’s name.
- Click the Members tab.
- Use the group’s Search box to find the person’s name in the list.
- Click the Send Message link.
- Write your message and click Send Message.
Send an InMail.
Little-known fact: You don’t need to upgrade your membership to send an InMail! You can simply send a single InMail message for $10.
- Go to Privacy and Settings (by clicking your little thumbnail photo in the upper right corner of the screen).
- In the “Inmails” box (top row, near center), click Purchase.
Invite her to join your network.
Go to the PPAL’s profile and click Connect. You can include a very brief message in your invitation. Of course, if she accepts, you can then message her freely.
In the form that opens next, you’ll be asked how you know her. The options are:
We’ve done business together
I don’t know (name)
(The “Groups” option will not appear if you have no groups in common with her.)
Remember: Your PPAL is not your Friend (at least, not yet)! If you click “Friend” and you’re actually a stranger, this is likely to annoy her. If she rejects your request by clicking “I don’t know this person,” you may be restricted by LinkedIn, which is not a pleasant experience.
Ask to be introduced.
This method involves asking someone for a favor. Use your judgment in determining whether it’s appropriate.
Do you see a “2nd” or “3rd” icon near the target person’s name? (Look for it in the upper right corner of the “snapshot” portion of the person’s profile, which is the white box where their name and photo appears.) If so, you can proceed as follows.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to the Send InMail button in the snapshot.
- Select Get Introduced.
- Follow the instructions. Read carefully, for example where it states “may get forwarded to (name of PPAL).” You are potentially writing to both people at once here!
A note about requesting introductions through a third-degree connection – somebody who knows somebody else, who in turn knows your PPAL: Obviously you have less chance of success here, and a not-insignificant chance of being perceived as a PITA. Use this feature with great care – or not at all!
For screenshots related to some of the above techniques, here’s a useful post on the Tech for Luddites blog.