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Sales pros understand that a warm introduction paves the way for quality prospect engagement. But the most successful sales professionals know the path to a sustainable source of warm intros is a robust and diverse network. Here’s how to go about building yours.

Why Your Network Matters

Nearly seven decision makers are now involved in a typical B2B buying decision, and half of all B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a resource when making purchase decisions. So, it’s a no brainer to connect with them and other relevant members on LinkedIn.

A big network helps when trying to connect with prospects. The larger your network – assuming your network growth stems from relevant connections – the more prospects you can reach via the “Get Introduced” feature. In fact, 44% of social buyers use shared connections on LinkedIn to find potential vendors.

Plus, the more connections you form with decision makers within an account, the greater the chance of closing a deal even when one contact leaves the company or fails to follow through on the project. Simply put, the more far-reaching your network, the better the odds of finding a shared connection who can introduce you.

Expand your network by reaching into all connection levels on LinkedIn. Your 1st-degree connections are in your network already. Either you accepted their invitation to connect, or they accepted yours. Second-degree connections are people who are connected to your 1st-degree connections, and 3rd-degree connections are connected to 2nd-degree connections.

Work Your Existing Connections

You might be thinking: “Why not just send connection requests to everyone I know on LinkedIn?” If for no other reason, it’s the equivalent of spamming, and as you’ve probably gathered from your sales outreach efforts, spamming is a less-than-effective approach.

If you’ve been in sales long enough, you know that there’s not always a straight line to your prospects. More often than not, you’ll find your way to promising buyers through others in your network, otherwise referred to as a “warm path.”

The good news is that you can take advantage of the networking you do daily to expand your prospecting reach. Your personal connections might be a link to high-value prospects.

Prospects are more open to connecting with others who share a mutual connection (on LinkedIn, this applies to both 2ndand 3rd-degree connections). Start by going through your existing network of teammates, colleagues, and clients using LinkedIn’s “How You’re Connected” feature to instantly see mutual connections.

For Sales Navigator users, the TeamLink feature allow you to automatically see connections between prospects and your coworkers. You’ll see connections with everyone in your company – even if you’re directly not connected to those colleagues on LinkedIn. Knowing which colleagues can help introduce you to prospects and accounts is a quick way to expand your network. Plus, as your company grows, your collective professional network expands with it.

Pay Attention to New Activity

Prospective buyers are continually going to fall off and reappear on your radar. To make sure you don’t miss those times they make an appearance, visit the “People You May Know” section of LinkedIn. Here you’ll see suggestions for LinkedIn members you may want to connect with because you already share connections or something in common (such as educational background, company, or industry). Check back often because these recommendations are updated to reflect new connections and activity.

Connect With Those Who Matter to Your Prospects

You can also add valuable connections to your network by tapping into those who are likely in your prospects’ network. Identify the consultants, channel partners, influencers, and others that your ideal buyer interacts with or follows. Proactively engage these people when you see a prime opportunity to do so. At the very least, take advantage of these connection opportunities as they arise. For instance, if you hit it off with an influential consultant at a conference, capitalize on the opportunity by inviting that person to join your LinkedIn network.

Building a strong network on LinkedIn is about tapping into your existing connections to create warm introductions with the prospects you’re trying to reach. For more ways to improve your prospecting, download our eBook, Read Me If You Want to Target the Right Prospects on LinkedIn.

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Originally published at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, reposted here with permission from our 2017 & 2018 Sponsor, LinkedIn.

Sean Callahan. (2018). The Key to Unlocking More Warm Introductions on LinkedIn. Available: https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/blog/sales-reps/2018/04/the-key-to-unlocking-more-warm-introductions-on-linkedin. Last accessed 17/05/2018.