Most people use LinkedIn as a contact management tool to connect with friends or former co-workers. Besides everyday social networking, LinkedIn can be used as a very effective sales prospecting tool. In this post I’ll show you 3 solid strategies to help you get qualified sales leads into your pipeline.
1. Nurture Your First-Degree Network
Other than sending or accepting a connection invitation, when was the last time you truly connected with the people in your first-degree network on LinkedIn? Many of these people may have hundreds of connections to your potential customers.
It’s a good idea to periodically reach out to these folks and offer them something of real value, such as an online resource or even a referral. And don’t discount the potential of a connection who isn’t in your same industry. They might know someone who can help you. Take a look at their list of connections (if that capability is enabled) and see who’s on their contact list.
2. Use Advanced People Search
LinkedIn has an Advanced People Search function you can use to identify prospects who you can get introduced to through members of your extended network. This tool makes it relatively easy to build a preliminary prospect list using a combination of keywords, industry descriptions and job titles to find key decision makers at target companies.
Once you have assembled your list, you can sort your results by relationship. This makes it easy to identify people in your extended network who might be able introduce you to the person on your prospect list. But be careful when asking for favors from your contacts. This is why it’s so important to nurture them first in step 1. You don’t want to risk damaging your reputation by coming across as an opportunist.
3. Participate In Group Discussions
Another way to use the list you built using the Advanced People Search function is to identify the groups your prospects participate in, join those same groups and start participating in discussions. It is likely that you can offer significant value to group discussions by answering relevant questions and becoming a trusted resource within the group. This strategy takes some time to implement, but can often lead to excellent results. The key is to offer real value.
Continue to grow your network as you implement these three strategies by connecting with every new prospect and customer you meet. This will give you both a direct connection to your new acquaintance and access to their extended network of co-workers and friends. This will in turn give you even more potential prospects.