Recently I was doing a day-long consulting event, spending one-on-one time with a large organization's business development folks, and was struck by the number of people who told me they're not currently connected on LinkedIn to all of their existing clients.  

The people responsible for making the decision to engage you are the most important LinkedIn connections you'll ever make.

Why weren't they connected to their clients?Because they didn't understand how the LinkedIn search algorithm works and the power of a rarely used feature called LinkedIn Introductions. 

LinkedIn's Search Algorithm

Let's address the LinkedIn search algorithm that determines who comes up first when people are looking for your products and services. 

1.  You have to have the right keywords and other criteria that people are searching for or you will never come up. For help with this, download "LinkedIn Keyword Worksheet" and "LinkedIn People Searching: Your Ticket to Improved ROI" on the free resources page of my website. 

2.  The default sort order for all search results is relevance. This is LinkedIn's "secret sauce," but the most important factor here appears to be your relationship with the searcher: Are you connected at the 1st, 2nd or 3rd level with the searcher.

This means every time you connect with the decision makers at your current client's company, you appear higher in the search results when their connections are looking for your product and services. This happens simply because you're connected with your clients. You don't have to do anything further. 

LinkedIn's Introduction Function

Once you connect with your clients and can see all their connections, you can put together a first-rate list of potential clients. You can then warm up a cold call with them by asking for an introduction from your client. There's no one better than a happy client to introduce you to potential clients. These introductions are golden. 

If you prefer to ask for an introduction the good old-fashioned way, great--pick up the phone and call up your client. But LinkedIn's Introduction feature is also a terrific way to get introduced to your current clients' connections whom you'd like to meet. Your clients can easily share a quick testimonial about how great you are and pass along your contact information to their connections.  

For all the details and strategies on how to ask for a LinkedIn Introduction, check out "I Found You, Now What Do I Do With You?" (Chapter 11 of my book) or the LinkedIn Help Center has a short discussion as well. 

What should you do next? Get out your client list and make sure you are connected to every single one of them. Then search their networks and ask for introductions. It's that easy. And don't forget to share your success stories with me!