I hope you are enjoying your summer. It just showed up around our part of the world. Better late than never. 


I recently had the opportunity to do a live webcam event for Inc. Magazine. It's called Live Chat, and it is an hour's worth of "yours truly" giving answers to questions about LinkedIn. Feel free to check it out.


This week I would like to address a question I am frequently asked: "I found someone on LinkedIn, and I am not connected to him at the first level, but I would like to contact him. What are my options?"  


You will need to decide which of these options is most appropriate for your situation.


·         Send a message.  This option is available to you if you are in a group with the person you want to contact. LinkedIn has made a change to this feature, and it is now a bit more cumbersome to send a message. You can no longer send a message via the person's profile. You must now go to the group to which you both belong, click "Members," and then put that person's name in the search box on the top left. When that person's entry comes up, you can click "Send a Message" on the top right of the individual's entry.    


·         Send InMail.  This will be at the top right of a person's profile if you don't have the right to connect with him/her through a free message. Most of us who do not have a paid account have already used our five free InMails (perhaps not even realizing that they are worth $10 apiece).


You can purchase more InMails one at a time by going to Settings (on the top right, hover over your name and click "Settings"), and you will see a category that is called InMails. This will show you how many InMails you have left, and you can click the "Purchase" button to buy more. If you find yourself doing this often, you may want to upgrade your account for $24.95 a month, which gets you three more InMails every month. If you send three InMails per month, then you are effectively paying nothing for the other features of a paid account.


·         Get introduced through a connection.  This feature not only enables you to have your connection (friend) introduce you to that person but also gives your connection the opportunity to write something nice about you, your services, or the products you offer (assuming you pick the right connection).  


I suggest that you call or email your friend to find out about the strength of the connection. At the same time you will want to remind your friend about how an introduction works on Linkedin so it doesn't get stuck in the Linkedin introduction pipe.


·         Join a group that person is in.  If the person is a member of a group that you are not a part of but it is an open group (e.g., Green Bay Packers Group, Wisconsin Networking Group, etc.), you could join the group, which would give you the ability to send him/her a message. This will not only save you $10 but will increase the chances of having your email opened, since the email states that you and the person you want to contact are now in a group together and thus have something more in common than just the fact that you would like to help him with his upcoming office furniture needs.


·         Call the company and ask for him/her.  Duh!  Believe it or not, this still works.


·         Send him/her something by snail mail.  Since the dawn of email, most of us receive less physical mail. Personally, this causes me to open most of the mail I receive. An envelope with a handwritten address is even more likely to be opened.


·         Stop at his/her place of business and drop off some goodies.  That will surely surprise the person. At M&M Office Interiors, we drop off a bag of M&M's, plain or peanut.