Cultivating a robust network on LinkedIn: A comprehensive guide

By Anders Björklund

Cultivating a robust network on LinkedIn: A comprehensive guide

Developing an effective network on LinkedIn is a tantalising prospect, with many falling into the trap of amassing as many connections as possible. However, focusing on those connections most likely to find your services or products relevant can often yield superior results.

Defining the modern and commercial user's needs

Does the modern commercial user require a list of leads and a telephone? Or do they derive all necessary resources from their robust LinkedIn networks? As the world of business morphs into a more complex entity, your commercial relationships become increasingly integral to your selling prowess.

Every contact you have is crucial, yet your LinkedIn connections represent an invaluable resource, ripe for leads, knowledge, contacts, and insights. Let's talk about why you should prioritise cultivating a robust LinkedIn network, which should be included in it, and the strategies for interacting and connecting effectively.

LinkedIn: A business network, not a target list

I think that understanding the ideal construct of your LinkedIn network is crucial. It's critical to remember that this platform represents your professional network. Many sales representatives often perceive their LinkedIn connections as sales targets, disregarding these individuals' unique challenges and priorities. It's hardly surprising, then, that the reputation of sales and sales reps has been tarnished!

Your LinkedIn network should encompass current and previous business associates and clients. All these individuals have the potential to become customers - if approached appropriately. It's vital to remember that LinkedIn users are weary of cold InMails from arbitrary sales representatives. Unsolicited pitches or spam are viewed with scepticism, so when reaching out to prospective customers on LinkedIn, consider these three cardinal rules:

  • Please allow some time before you try to sell to people.
  • Please don't use automated messages asking for meetings or demonstrations. 
  • Wait to follow up after someone accepts your connection request. 

Establishing relationships and social capital should be your initial focus - trust must be earned.

The optimal LinkedIn network composition

In a sales role, interactions with people are a regular occurrence, and one of your primary objectives should be continually expanding your pool of connections. Networking involves creating a systematic approach to connecting with others and, for instance, reviewing a person's profile before a meeting and, post-meeting, extending an invitation to connect. If you find someone intriguing, you can follow them and see if they can reciprocate. If someone engages frequently with your LinkedIn content, that could be a cue to invite them to connect.

The individuals you should seek connections with to foster long-term relationships and potential business opportunities include:


One excellent method for discovering intriguing contacts is through your colleagues' connections. For instance, your prospect or customer may have previously worked with one of your colleagues or attended the same university. This is what makes LinkedIn's TeamLink feature on Sales Navigator so powerful. Could you make a concerted effort to connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn?


The era of closing a deal and subsequently disregarding the client has passed. Companies increasingly recognise that customer satisfaction is as important as acquiring new business. Please interact with your customers, monitor their activities, request recommendations, and seek referrals. Then, if needed, you can create a connection by checking in with them periodically.

Target contacts 

For B2B companies, multiple individuals are often involved in the buying process. Hence, connecting with your target companies' users, decision-makers, and internal experts is crucial.

Knowledge leaders

Regardless of your services or products, industry influencers offer valuable advice, best practices, trends, and insights. If you aspire to stay ahead of the curve, these are the individuals to identify, follow, and connect with.

Potential customers

Potential customers represent a crucial group to consider when cultivating a robust LinkedIn network. The question often arises: "How should I connect with people I don't know but want to get to know?" I suggest initially following these individuals to familiarise yourself with them, allowing relationships to evolve naturally.

There are multiple methods to invite people to join your LinkedIn network, but your approach should hinge on several variables, such as:

  • Your industry,
  • Your level of activity and influence,
  • The type of prospect you work with,
  • The complexity of your sales cycle,
  • and more.

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to sending invitations, best practices suggest treating each interaction as a personal outreach. Colleagues or clients already familiar with you may not require a personalised invite. However, adding a personalised note is recommended if the recipient is unfamiliar with you or your intentions. For example, prospects may need a reminder unless you've previously talked with them about it.

While you might still garner a decent acceptance rate with standard invitations, an accepted connection request only equates to a warm connection if the person knows you. You still need to foster engagement and establish social capital.

Crafting personalised connection requests

A generic statement such as "I found you on LinkedIn" doesn't suffice when crafting a personalised note. For reaching out to unknown prospects, partners, or potential connections, consider the following three-sentence template:

  • State why you're reaching out,
  • Explain why they should accept,
  • Extend an invitation for a conversation on their terms.

Authenticity is key; a generic statement like "We have shared connections" won't cut. Even if you're unfamiliar with a prospect, a generic invite will indicate that you view them as just another target. Therefore, investing some time in research to understand why a connection would be beneficial from their perspective is imperative.

Building your network will yield numerous benefits

The essence of modern networking is fostering connections and relationships before you require them. You'll be able to position your connections as resources before they need to make a purchase.

You will need assistance if you're looking for a sales meeting or an introduction to a hiring manager. However, proactively reaching out to new contacts and offering relevant value increases the likelihood of gaining their attention and support.

This doesn't replace your current outreach efforts but makes them feel better for you. It synergises with your other channels, enabling you to engage with your prospects, clients, and partners effectively.

By investing in your network now, you're setting yourself up for future success. Suppose you would like more insights into leveraging social media for business. In that case, you can browse our comprehensive guide and download our presentation on developing an effective social media strategy for your company.

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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