In the last blog, I urged you to utilize your existing network of friends and business colleagues to begin building your connections on Linked In. This is important because of a unique feature found within Linked In; 2nd and 3rd Tier Connections. In my opinion, this one feature is what makes Linked In the most readily applicable tools for business in social media.
What exactly makes 2nd and 3rd Tier Connections so important? First, let me explain exactly what they are. Your direct connections with friends and colleagues are referred to as 1st Tier connections. These would be the business cards you have collected, the names in your planner or phone, etc. 2nd Tier Connections would be a list of all the combined people that are connected to your 1st Tier connections. In other words, all of the people listed in the planners of the people listed in your planner. If you are connected to 250 people who also know 250 people, you now are connected to a total of 62,750 people total between 1st and 2nd Tier Connections. 3rd Tier connections are everyone connected to those additional 62,500 people that are your 2nd Tier Connections. Let’s just assume that they all know 250 people as well. Your total network with 2nd and 3rd Connections just became 15,625,250 people! I bet you never knew that you had warm connections to that many people.
Linked In enables you to see all of these connections by Tier level tied back to your direct connection. Anyone within the 15,625,250 listed above will now show on Linked In as being a Direct, 2nd or 3rd Tier connection on their profile. Here is where that gets exciting. I work primarily with large retailers. Let’s say that I was trying to get a meeting to discuss our company with someone at Ann Taylor. Linked In allows you to do a search by company. So, I search “Ann Taylor” and will see everyone, of all 50 million plus Linked In users, that has Ann Taylor listed in their work profile. These people will be displayed to show any 1st, 2nd or 3rd Tier Connections. I may be surprised to find that a direct connection that I have at Dell may have worked at Ann Taylor two jobs ago, or I may see several people who currently work at Ann Taylor that are shown as 2nd and 3rd Tier connections.
How do I use this information? I look first to see if I have any Direct connections that can introduce me to the company. Then, I look at the 2nd Tier connections to see what their job role is and if any would be particularly involved in a department that I would like to connect with. If none seem applicable, I would proceed to look at the 3rd Tier connections for the same. Assuming I find someone who might be able to open a door for me at Ann Taylor, I now determine which direct connection is linked to them. I then have the ability to ask my direct connection to forward on a note to the connection I am interested in on my behalf. If it is a 3rd Tier connection, there would be two links between me and the party I was interested in connecting with. So, I write a nice note to the person at Ann Taylor and request that my direct connection send that along the chain for me. If you have good relationships with your direct connections, they are usually happy to do this. The end result is that your note asking for a moment of the person’s time at Ann Taylor gets forwarded by someone with whom they are directly connected. This process basically turns a cold call into a warm introduction. Hopefully you see the significant value in that.
The great thing about this feature is that it puts your network on steroids. You have always known who you were connected to. Now you know who your connections are connected to and who those connections are connected to. And, you have a tool to connect the dots and make these connections useful. That would not be remotely possible without this tool. If you have been a social media skeptic, hopefully this is an eye opening moment for you in understanding how this can be a powerful tool to build your business.