Some of you may have read a recent post from our co-founder, Reid Hoffman, on his book “The Startup of You” (co-authored with Ben Casnocha). In the book, we’re introduced to a couple of interesting concepts on professional networking.

One of these is the idea of “IWe” – how the strength of your network out to the third degree magnifies your individual capabilities. It’s not only “who you know”, but also “who the people in your network know”. That’s the power of “I to the We” of your network.

Based on sampled data, the average LinkedIn member has access to over 9,000 people via their 2nd degree network. That represents, on average, access to opportunities and connections in over 6,000 companies and organizations in 130 industries via 2nd degree connections that can be reached by an introduction.

We see this clearly when we look at how a professional’s network evolves as they connect with highly connected individuals. For instance, our CEO’s (Jeff Weiner) first connection was our co-founder (Reid Hoffman). That original connection gave Jeff immediate access to 560 companies and 106 industries. We’ve also found that our most connected members on average have access to 200,000 companies through 3 million people in their extended network.

The data shows that as your professional network grows, so do your career opportunities. Whether it is a former colleague, a business partner, a friend or a classmate, the connections in your network are all insiders at an organization with whom you may collaborate in the future. We actually found that as members advanced in their careers, more than 20% of them advanced to organizations where they knew somebody in their prior jobs. And this percentage only increases as the number of connections in your network grows.

Adding trusted connections to your network is likely to increase your success whether it’s starting a business, finding key insights in your role, or even being more successful in a meeting. For example, our data shows that job seekers who grew their networks were 30% more likely to find jobs than other job seekers whose networks remained static.

Your LinkedIn connections give you access not only to the information and opportunities in industries, organizations, and groups that they belong to, but also to their entire professional networks. That could be thousands or even millions of people your connections can put you in touch with. How long did it take to make the first 10 connections in your network? How about the first 100 or 1000? How long would it take to reach a million connections? And, that’s how a professional network like LinkedIn can give you access to a million professionals through your 2nd and 3rd degrees, even when you have only 100 connections.

Here’s an easy way to start expanding the reach of your LinkedIn network