HOW TO: Meet People in Real Life via LinkedIn

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by Donna Svei on June 14, 2011

Last week a new LinkedIn connection, who I don’t know in real life, sent me the following note (more or less):

Donna,

Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. Take a look at your schedule in the coming weeks and see if we can chisel a few minutes for a cup of coffee. I enjoy meeting my local connections whenever possible.

Paul Halvorsen

In looking at Paul’s profile, I could see that we have a lot in common professionally. Why not share a cup of coffee? The next time I’m in Boise, or he’s in Sun Valley, we’ll take the LinkedIn connection to real life.

How might this approach serve a job seeker wanting to do informational interviews?

    1. Join LinkedIn groups for your industry and job type.
    2. Join Linked In groups for your alma mater(s).

Look in your 1st level connections for locals, and even better, people who work(ed) for your target companies.

How do you find these people?

    1. Go to LinkedIn Advanced People Search.
    2. At “Postal Code” enter your zip/postal code and “Within” 50 miles.
    3. At “Groups” check the group you want to search for locals.
    4. At “Relationship” check “1st connections.”
    5. Click “Search.”

If you come up empty, search your chosen groups for local members. It’s the same search described above except for Step 4. Check “All Members” instead of “1st connections.” Some of these people are probably willing to receive messages from other group members. Invite them to connect:

Donna,

I see that we’re both members of the Pepperdine University Alumni group who live in the Boise area. I’d like to connect with you on Linked In.

Sincerely,

Paul Halvorsen

All connected? Good. Now reach out. That note might look like:

Donna,

Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. Take a look at your schedule in the coming weeks and see if we can chisel a few minutes for a cup of coffee. I’m job hunting. Because you’re a production manager with more experience than I have, I would love to ask you for a little career advice – not a job – just advice.

Also, I simply enjoy meeting my local connections whenever possible.

Kind regards,

Paul Halvorsen

Will you get 100% “yes” responses? Of course not. But you probably will meet some people who are willing to give you an informational interview.

Which leads me to a final, cautionary note. Use sound judgment when you move relationships from social media platforms to real life. Frame your meetings professionally.

    1. Dress appropriately.
    2. Meet in a neutral, public place such as a Starbucks near your connection’s office.
    3. Schedule meetings just before or during normal business days and hours.

If you have any reservations about your safety, invite more people. Arrange for a mini meetup instead of a one-on-one.

Now, go ahead, expand your world!

BTW, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/donnasvei. My email address is donnasvei@gmail.com. I love connecting with people who read my blog!

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com or call me at (208) 721-0131.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Timothy Johnson III June 14, 2011 at 21:16

Donna, this has got to be the *BEST* LinkedIn networking tip ever. I wasn’t aware I could use LinkedIn in this fashion, but I’ll definitely check it out over the new few days. Something tells me I’ll be drinking A LOT of coffee quite soon. Thanks!

Donna Svei June 14, 2011 at 21:20

Awww Tim. Thanks! Donna

Career Sherpa June 15, 2011 at 04:01

Donna:
Welcome to Career Collective! So happy to see you here!

This is an awesome example of how to take LinkedIn connections to the next level! I am so glad you walked us through not only the how to find people part (on LinkedIn) but also the sample wording for the invitation!

Great work, as always!

Ed Han June 15, 2011 at 08:37

I didn’t realize you weren’t already part of the Career Collective, congratulations!

One of the hallmarks of your blogs is your clear, easy-to-follow steps and it’s great to see how those steps appear in this blog!

Something I’ve started trying to do is move my social media conversations to the phone/F2F where I can. It ties to the same idea you’re discussing here: going from virtual to physical. I’m willing to do what I can for a Twitter/LI friend, but if I know that sound of your voice or the way you laugh, I’m willing to do more for you.

As always, excellent!

Dawn Bugni June 15, 2011 at 09:56

Donna –

Ed’s right! I love your posts because of the logical, step-by-step guidance you offer. NO EXCUSE for not implementing!

I enjoy going to TweetUps here in Wilmington, NC. There local tweeters can take online connections to face-to-face meetings. Online conversations are great but there’s nothing quite like having those “online avatars” come to life during a meet & greet.

Welcome to the Career Collective. It’s marvelous to be blogging with you!

Doug Pill June 15, 2011 at 10:11

Donna:

As usual, great content with real world examples. Your advice of using social media to build IRL/hand to hand relationships is something that has been lost on many. Social Media offers opportunities to touch people at light speed from distances near and far. Keep up the great work and thank you for your dedication to inform. #ittrulyhelps:)

Donna Svei June 16, 2011 at 22:49

Thanks for your kind words and adding to the convo you guys!

Donna

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers June 17, 2011 at 01:35

Donna – Great reminders about how to use LinkedIn’s tools. So many people under-use social media tools and don’t realize all those “back end” resources to help move social media relationships to productive, professional friendships! I’m glad you’ve joined the Career Collective and look forward to your future contributions.

Mike Lehrer June 17, 2011 at 11:18

Donna,

Great post, I agree with Ed and the previous folks that your posts are always concise and easy to implement. They are of great value to everybody, so thanks for being a great resource.

I plan on leveraging these tips a lot more now, thanks a bunch!

Cheers,
Michael

Donna Svei June 20, 2011 at 12:16

Thanks Miriam and Mike. The information and opportunities to meet people today, compared to just a handful of years ago, are simply amazing. The rewards will go to the people who show up, on-line and in real life!

Donna

Nick Gronow July 13, 2011 at 07:45

Who knew you could connect with local people via LinkedIn so easily? It is definitely the norm for to think of social media as the “little friends who live in our computers,” but you help us push the envelope in this area. My LinkedIn experience has gone from my local connections first to online connections and now shall return to actually meeting some of the local connections I made in the first place, whom I have never met in person. Thanks for this valuable tip!

I love “little friends who live in our computers” Nick! LOL Donna

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