It is rarely going to be a first or second-level connection.
You will probably need to work through several layers.
For example, if you are selling a financial technology product for equity analysts and have a friend who is a trader at a hedge fund, you’ll need to go two or three layers deep to find a connection. Your friend might trade bonds, so he’ll have to connect you with the equity trader at his fund who can then connect you with an equity analyst. The key point in the process is the equity trader. You can’t depend on your friend to send him an email to forward to an analyst.
You need to have a qualitative conversation with the equity trader, so she understands your product and can provide a resounding recommendation to her equity analyst contact.
Treat every layer like a sale.
Pro Tip #1: Never, ever assume someone will do the selling for you. Your friend might say, “Send me your presentation and I’ll forward it to someone.” Do the work yourself. Get the contact info and personally contact each person in the chain.
Pro Tip #2: Send a handwritten thank you card to everyone along the way.
Pro Tip #3: Definitely use LinkedIn here.
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