Here is a meaning for “Social Search” that is a bit different from the applications that Google, Bing, Facebook and others are racing to perfect. This one is already available and can be really valuable to entrepreneurs and other professionals.
I have a new friend (who found me on LinkedIn) who is self-funding development of a very interesting new product and Web service. (A prototype of the product is cellalert.org – but an advanced version is now in development.) The existing product has received finalist recognition in netsquared and other mobile challenges. He and his partner (in different cities) are both working full-time in senior level high-tech jobs. He has received some small funding amounts but will need more in a few months to keep going. He needs an angel, but not sure how to find one.
My suggestion is to use LinkedIn; and I’ll give some examples below that can help him and maybe others.
From my own experience with social networking platforms, LinkedIn is way better than any other platform for this kind of thing, where a trusted introduction really helps, e.g., for finding partners, investors, donors, advisers, employees, friendly press contacts, etc. But I would love to hear if others have had good results with other platforms.
OK, how to find an angel:
First example – broad search:
In LinkedIn, click on “Advanced Search” (link to left of quick search box at top of every page).
In the Advanced Search page “Keywords” box, enter “angel investor” (in quotes).
Then under “Location” enter your local zipcode and specify “within 50 miles” (or whatever you want).
Then scroll down to “Sort by” and choose “Relationship”. This will show you the people you’re most closely connected to first.
Now press Search.
When I do this for Washington, DC and for my network, I get 44 results, and 11 of those are only 2 degrees away from me (friends of my friends). (You’ll get different results in different cities and depending on how many and what kind of personal connections you have.)
Second example – broader search
I can start with the same search and widen my net to get more people by entering this in the keywords box:
“Angel investor” OR “early stage investor”
(“OR” has to be in caps) this gives me 50 results, 14 of which are 2 degrees from me.
Third example – narrower search
My friend is especially interested in applications of his product for non-profits, so he would like to find an investor who shares his values.
For this I started by changing the Keyword box to this:
“angel investor” AND (“social entrepreneur” OR “non-profit” OR “social responsibility” OR “socially responsible”)
//Note that you can string phrases together with OR to form concepts, and then you can combine two concepts with an AND.//
This time I got 5 results and 3 are 2 degrees from me, and one is especially interesting because he has done a lot of work with social entrepreneurs and high-profile non-profit movements.
Now that I’ve found a few interesting people, what’s next?
Start with the best people who are only 2 degrees away from you. If you want more, add the best people who are 3 degrees away from you and where the person who can introduce you is someone who knows you well enough to especially want to help you.
Now take the person you’ve ranked the highest and send them a message through the person you know who can forward your request or make an introduction.
If the person you want to talk to is only 2 degrees away from you, you can either send your direct contact an email asking them to introduce you, or you can use LinkedIn’s free “Introduction Request” feature. The introduction request allows you to write a message to the person you want to meet and then also write a short note to your direct contact who can introduce you.
Using LinkedIn’s introduction request feature is especially effective because the person you want to talk to will not only get your message and an introduction from your mutual friend, but they’ll also be able to see your very impressive profile on LinkedIn.
If the person you want to meet is 3 degrees away, the best thing to do is to use LinkedIn’s introduction request feature – making sure to write a compelling message.
However, if your only direct connections to the target person are people you really don’t know that well, then you might be better off using LinkedIn’s “InMail” service – though that requires a paid business subscription to LinkedIn. (The other methods are free; however, InMails work well, including when the relationships involved aren’t all that strong.)
If anyone has questions about this, feel free to ask here. Also if you’ve had really good results with other social networking platforms, let us know that too.
Related post: Social Search and sharing news and ideas.