How to Leverage LinkedIn Second-Degree Connections to Target New ProspectsBy Kelly Stark, Forward Vision Marketing.

I learned how to best leverage LinkedIn for selling by attending David Wuensch’s LinkedIn Second Connection course.  Now I am sharing his secrets and even trained others on my recent Social Selling Webinar. While other networks such as Facebook and Twitter, typically get the most attention when it comes to social marketing, LinkedIn provides the highest return on investment for B2B companies focusing on lead generation.

LinkedIn’s Powerful Connections

As of today, there are 690+ million users on LinkedIn. What’s incredible is that the average chief executive officer has 1000+ connections on LinkedIn. This presents a wealth of opportunities when it comes to lead generation.

If you’re not familiar with how LinkedIn connections work, it’s fairly simple. First-degree connections are people on LinkedIn who have accepted your connection invitation or whose invitation you’ve accepted. Second-degree connections are people who are connected to your first-degree connections but are not connected to you. Third-degree connections are people who are connected to your second-degree connections, but not your first-degree connections or you. LinkedIn will show you these degree distinctions while you’re logged in and viewing others’ profiles.

How it Works

Leveraging your second-degree connections – even though you may not directly know them – can end up being a powerful marketing strategy. It happens like this:

Suppose you have an RFID-related company and you notice that you have a second-degree connection with Mike, a manager of a business that could benefit from your RFID technology. You can get a warm introduction by requesting a common first connection to introduce you to Mike.  Although you don’t know Mike personally, you can still reach out to him directly through InMail and pitch the benefits of your technology. Lastly, you could send Mike a connection invitation. If he accepts, you can pitch your business solution to him through a private message.

Let’s say Mike is a third-degree connection, and you have a second-degree connection with Jim, who is connected with Mike. You could reach out directly to Jim, asking to connect and how he knows the other people to whom he is connected. Jim accepts your connection and answers your question. This will give you access to Mike’s profile as one of your now second-degree connections and you can contact him through InMail or send him a connection invitation. You can then invite Mike to your seminar on new uses for RFID technology, or take any number of different actions to nurture your new lead.

Targeted Marketing with LinkedIn’s Second-Degree Connections

Increasing the number of your connections on LinkedIn is the key to this type of marketing – the more first degree connections you have, the more second- and third-degree connections you can leverage. The first step in doing this is to import your email list, which will allow you to see which of your email contacts are already members of LinkedIn and will let you connect with them. Next, you can search LinkedIn to find fellow alumni of any schools you’ve attended and ask those people to connect. Finally, join groups. This is the most powerful strategy to expand your connections. By typing in keywords that deal with your industry, such as RFID, payment technology, inventory management, etc., you can find groups that are dedicated to discussing and sharing information about your industry. Once you’re a member, you can easily ask other members to connect. Having common points of interest with your connections, whether they’re first-, second- or even third-degree, will enhance your chances of finding companies and people to do business with.

When approached correctly, many of your LinkedIn second-degree connections will be in industries similar to yours or will potentially need your products or services. LinkedIn allows you to see and even contact these people directly, giving you constant access to a large list of marketing prospects.