What do you do when you need to get to a person or a company?

It used to be that when you needed to get through to somebody you didn't already know you had to pick up the phone and persuade that skeptical receptionist/gatekeeper. Remember the movie "Wall Street," when Bud Fox called Gordon Gekko for 30 days straight, each time trying to charm Gekko's secretary to put him through?

Gatekeepers can be pretty tough (besides, when Bud Fox did get through the gatekeeper to Gekko, he lost everything and almost wound up in jail. But we digress).

Cold calling is not dead -- but it is on life support. Sure, the cold call still has its place but, fortunately, we now have some other tools in our arsenal that make cold calls a lot warmer. Today, that means using LinkedIn (and sometimes Facebook and Google) to try to get to someone. And going in warm is almost always better than going in cold.

How to Linkedin your way to success.

Used correctly, LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can lead to plenty of great contacts and successful sales and deals. You can literally get deals done on LinkedIn -- if you just know how to navigate it.

Related: 18 Tips to Create Your Perfect LinkedIn Profile (Infographic)

Here's how you do it.

Your Profile: Make sure you have a professional looking Linkedin profile. It goes a long way to someone wanting to do business with you. That includes a profile picture, summary, job history and your education. Plus, if you can get some good recommendations from colleagues, that's a big help. Make it look good so people want to do business with you.

Getting to someone: If you want to get to a specific person, type his or her name into LinkedIn. When you get to their profile, see if you have any "common connections."

If you find a common connection, congratulations. Now you have two options.

  1. Ask your common connection to make an introduction for you. If they're willing to do so, that's great. But remember, you're now on their timetable. And besides, they may not know each other very well... they may just be "LinkedIn friends."
  2. Your other option is to simply reach out to the person you're trying to get to. Of course they may not respond, but...and it's a big but, when they see that you have a common connection or two, they'll assume that you're someone worth being connected to. In other words, that common connection is essentially vouching for you without even knowing it.

Pretty cool, huh?

If you don't know anyone in common, that's ok. Now you just have to dig a little deeper. Go through their profile and maybe you have something in common with them, whether it's their college, a previous job or an interest.

Related: The One Thing You're Doing Wrong on LinkedIn

Still nothing? Dig deeper.

Company search: If they work or used to work for a decent sized company, you can search that company on LinkedIn. You'll get a list of everyone on LinkedIn at that company -- as well as what level of connection you are to each of them.

You can even connect with random people at a company, so that when you try to connect to the person you really want to get to, it appears to them that you already know people at the company, so they are more likely to accept your request.

The Pro version of LinkedIn, while not cheap, is worth the investment if you're serious about connecting with people and building your network. You can even test it free for one month. You can use that month to expand you base of contacts and see if it's a worthwhile investment for you.

Another benefit of the Pro version is that you can see when someone looks at your profile. Not everyone you reach out to will look at your profile, but it's nice to know when someone does. At least you know you've got their attention.

Related: 5 Steps to Generating High Quality Leads on LinkedIn

For some reason, the mobile app lets you send connection requests with fewer steps and to more people than using the website. Strange as that may seem, it does appear to be the case.

To start you off in the right direction, send me a connection request on LinkedIn -- that way, you'll be one step closer to my 1,365 contacts and your own LinkedIn success story.