ImageLinkedIn’s profile redesign brought with it some interesting bells and whistles. The one I like the most is the super-simple tool that allows a member to sift through 1st connections’ connections (your 2nd and 3rd connections.)

OK, I hear your wheels turning. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the various levels of connections. Simply think of your 1st connections as your next-door neighbor, and your 2nd and 3rd connections as neighbors of your neighbor. You may wave hello or chat over the fence with your next door neighbor, but haven’t had a chance to get to know the others…even though they are great people to know.

This new LinkedIn tool makes it really easy to not only find valuable, targeted connections but actually…well…connect! But in a far more meaningful manner.

Here’s the simple 6-step process in a nutshell:

  1. Visit the profile page of any 1st connection of yours. (Just pick any one -- for demo purposes.)
  2. Scroll down the profile page until you see the section entitled “Connections”.
  3. To the right of “Connections” is a magnifying glass. (Whenever you see the magnifying glass, it indicates a searchable item.)
  4. Click on the magnifying glass.
  5. A little window opens, into which you can type any keyword of your choice. Type in “marketing”, “finance”, “real estate”, etc. (Any criteria you wish. For demo purposes.)
  6. Hit ‘enter’, and you’ll now see a complete list of your connections’ connections who use the keyword ‘marketing’ within their profiles. (Just below the word “Connections” is the number of connections meeting your criteria.)

Awesome, huh?

But wait…there’s more!

See the little “advanced search” link?

Here’s where the fun really begins.

Click on “advanced search” to sort through all of your connection’s connections based on a wide variety of criteria. For example, if you want to work for a specific company, search by company name, or search for recruiters in your industry. Want to see a list of your peers, competitively? Search using your job title and variations. The options are endless. You can even search across group members.

And here’s another tip:

When you’ve identified 2nd and 3rd connections you might like to meet, don’t send an Introduction request through LinkedIn. Instead:

1) Call your 1st connection

2) Inquire about the person and the relationship

3) Get your connection’s opinion regarding this person’s value to you.

Then you can send the introduction request through LinkedIn, assured that it will meet its mark rather than being ignored and…BONUS!...you’ve just strengthened your relationship with your 1st connection by calling and asking for his opinion.