Connections matter. Big time. Recent research from Reachable.com shows just how much it impacts your ability to get a callback from a "stranger." In fact, you're: 

  • 3x more likely if you contact a mutual acquaintance.
  • 4x more likely if the connection calls to make an introduction.
  • 11x more likely if they have an actual connection. 

See. It does make a difference. But most sellers don't know how to leverage their LinkedIn connections nearly as much as they could. 

LinkedIn Connections

To help you expand your thinking, here are some TRUE STORIES shared by people who took our 2013 Sales & LinkedIn Survey. By reading them, you'll discover numerous ways you can get in touch with someone even if you don't have a 1st level connection. 

Connecting to CEOs. I always look to see if and how I am connected to a prospect. If I find a common connection, I’ll normally speak with him/her first to find out how they’re connected, what the experience was like and whether I can use their name. By doing this, I've landed a number of meetings with CEOs at target companies. ~ Ralph O. 

When Your Prospects Aren't on LinkedIn. "I work with seniors, but I am referred by business partners such as attorneys, financial planners, certified financial planners and insurance planners. Senior workers are good targets, but getting to my senior customers through LinkedIn is almost impossible. I need to get to the people who can refer to me." ~ Bernadette C. 

Leveraging 2nd-Level Connections. "There was an organization that I was trying to penetrate. As I looked through the list of active LinkedIn users, I wrote down the names of my 2nd level connections. Then I looked at each of their profiles to find out who my 1st level connection was to these individuals. One was connected to a close friend of mine. As I looked over her bio, I noticed she and my friend had worked together before. When I connected with this 2nd level person via email, I mentioned our mutual friend. She then got me in contact with the right person within her organization."  ~ Bryan K. 

Alumni Groups Deliver. "I've utilized my college Alumni Group to InMail fellow alums (who I don't know) to identify my contact within their organization. Every one of them has been willing to help a fellow alumni out." ~ Rob H. 

Leveraging Centers of Influence. "I take my best COI (center of influence) clients and look at their connections to see who they can introduce me to. Then I ask my clients if they would do an introduction to Mr. X by putting in a good word for my services. That way, when I call Mr. X, they are already eager to talk with me." ~ Tom B. 

Who’s Looking at You. "I saw that someone from a company I’d been trying to get into had viewed my profile. It wasn't the purchasing agent I'd been trying to speak with, but her boss. I used that as my 'in' and contacted him directly. After that, I got the meeting I wanted and it ended with a good order. I'm still working on more follow-up business, but am now an established supplier there." ~ Jay O.  

One Thing Leads to Another. "I connected with someone who was interested in using me for a project he was working on. It gave me a chance to get to know him and have several conversations during which I was able to demonstrate my expertise. While that project never came about, he did introduce me to his subsequent employer for some input on another related project. After an in-person meeting, I received a consulting agreement, which later turned into a two year gig. There is no possible way I would have ever met any of these people without LinkedIn." ~ Larry W. 

Old Contact Re-emerges. An old contact (SVP level) popped on the "list of people you may know." I’d lost touch with him because he’d semi-retired. I reached out to him again to connect via Linkedin. One week later, my cell phone went off. I answered it and it was my old contact. He needed help with a sales team he was now leading. This led to a new engagement for me. He then proceeded to introduce me to other division heads in his business. We continue to have a business relationship three years later." ~ Don G. 

Old Friend Opens Door. "I re-connected with a friend from my High School, whom I lost touch with during the past 30 years. After the initial invite and connection via LinkedIn, we spoke on the phone. He asked me what I'm doing and I told him about my business and a new on-line shipping tool. He immediately gave me a key contact for a company that he is an investor with. This opened a door to meet with this contact and start doing business managing their transportation." ~Dave M. 

So what do you think? Any chance you can leverage your LinkedIn connections better after seeing how your colleagues are doing it? I sure hope so!