How To Build A Better Network on LinkedIn

Learn how to build a better network on LinkedIn, along with how to leverage that network to make warmer introductions.

June 12, 2016

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LinkedIn is all about networking, and even if you use LinkedIn primarily as a sales tool, you won’t reach your full potential without first learning how to build a great network. Of course, you’ve already laid much of the groundwork in your day-to-day work life—and you might be surprised how many potential connections you already have.

The Sales Prospecting Toolkit’s tip sheet on building a high-quality network can provide you with a basic rundown of LinkedIn’s network features, including degrees of connections and how to send a connection request. Here, we’ll take a deeper look at some of that information, revealing how best practices can lead to a better, more useful network, along with warmer introductions to your prospects and leads.

Degrees of Connection

In the LinkedIn universe, there are a few different types of “connections,” or people in your network. Those people with whom you’ve already connected—one of you has accepted the other’s invitation—are 1st-degree connections. 2nd-degree connections are people who are connected to your 1st-degree connections, and 3rd-degree connections are connected to 2nd-degree connections.

You can send an invitation to any 2nd-degree connections, and to some 3rd-degree connections. Knowing how you’re connected to a prospect, including the degree of connection, will determine the best way to reach out to them. For example, if they’re a 2nd-degree connection that you’ve met in person, sending an invitation is appropriate. If you haven’t met them, or if they’re a 3rd-degree connection, you may wish to have a colleague introduce you.

Connection Requests and Personal Notes

Remember that connecting with somebody on LinkedIn allows them to see your full profile, including connections, updates, and contact information. LinkedIn already limits your potential network based on degrees of connection, but you should also avoid the urge to connect with people that you don’t know outside of LinkedIn. (You don’t have to accept every invitation, either.)

Though you’re looking to build a large network, sending out connection requests to everyone you know on LinkedIn is not a good approach. First of all, sending too many requests at once can lead to a spamming ban. More importantly, you should always take the time to include a personalized note with your connecting requests, rather than using the standard request automatically generated by LinkedIn.

Everyone has their own approach to sending notes, but no matter what you include, the message should be warm, personal, and polite. Mention how you know them and what you know or admire about their work. Finally, consider the state of your own profile and photo before sending any requests.

Sending Warmer Introductions

As a social seller, one of your primary goals should be to find a way to get warmer introductions to your prospects. That’s easy when you’ve met the person already, but how can you warmly introduce yourself to people that you don’t know? Often, the answer lies in tapping into your existing network of colleagues and clients.

All available evidence suggests that prospects are much more likely to bite if they can see that you already have a mutual connection (on LinkedIn, this applies to both 2nd and 3rd-degree connections). In fact, by using LinkedIn’s “How You’re Connected” feature, you can instantly see mutual connections and commonalities that you have with a prospect. Suddenly, making warm introductions becomes much easier, as you can now either mention your common connection or ask your mutual contact to provide an introduction for you.

Sales Navigator’s TeamLink feature can also improve introductions by revealing the connections between prospects and your team—even if you’re not connected to everyone on your team. This provides a clear path to request a warm introduction and get your foot in the door.

Building a strong network on LinkedIn requires harnessing the connections that you already have, then leveraging those connections to create warm introductions with the prospects you’re aiming to reach.

For more on building a high-quality LinkedIn network that empowers your sales process, check out our Sales Prospecting Toolkit.