If you’re looking to grow your book of business, use LinkedIn
Are you looking for new employees, new clients, or simply trying to raise awareness for your brand? No matter the case, prospecting on LinkedIn is easy with a little dedication.
Cold prospecting is reaching out to someone you don’t know to tell them about your company’s services. It’s basically LinkedIn’s equivalent to cold-calling. While cold-calling has a bad reputation, people still see good results. (Or else we wouldn’t have found a way to adapt cold-calling to the internet, right?)
LinkedIn urges its users to make connections to drive professional relationships. Users anticipate that people will approach them, so don’t be afraid that you’re bothering or annoying anyone.
Here are 11 best practices for prospecting on LinkedIn:
1. Optimize your profile.
The No. 1 activity on LinkedIn is viewing members’ profiles, so make sure yours appeals to decision-makers. Before sending your first message, be sure to fill out every field on your profile. We recommend writing in first person to grow authenticity and build trust from the start. Avoid listing generic skills. Be specific about how your skills position you as an expert in your industry.
2. Consider going premium.
It’s well worth the monthly investment to upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium service. There are four options to choose from – career, business, sales, and hiring – and each membership offers different benefits. For prospecting, we recommend LinkedIn Sales or LinkedIn Business.
3. Use one outreach method consistently.
There are many experts who have developed methods for successful outreach on LinkedIn. Whichever LinkedIn guru you decide to trust and follow, be consistent. Use that outreach method for at least three months before deciding to try a different approach.
4. Search with a purpose.
Take advantage of LinkedIn’s search capabilities. Spend time reviewing its functions and how you can get the most from the platform. (Tip: LinkedIn supports Boolean searches and filters; using these properly will increase the quality of your search results.) There are many ways to automate LinkedIn searches; however, this is a violation of LinkedIn’s user agreement, so do so at your own risk.
5. Leverage search alerts.
Decide your search criteria and click “Create search alert.” LinkedIn will then send you a digest of any new results for that search on a weekly basis. Remember to be as specific as possible. Quality over quantity.
6. Alumni search – use it!
Use this tool as an easy way to introduce yourself to fellow alumni. It’s a huge pool of potential connections, and sharing the same alma mater is a helpful icebreaker.
7. Prospect people who view your profile.
Once you begin your outreach efforts, you’ll notice more people checking out your profile. Take advantage of their curiosity and take a shot at attracting their business. While not everyone will be your ideal prospect, they might know a perfect fit for the services you offer. Be brave; you miss every shot you don’t take!
8. Check out “People also viewed.”
Be sure to scroll through the users listed under “People Also Viewed” to the right of your profile homepage. While these people aren’t necessarily prospects, they might be your competitors, and, as such, are worth taking a look at to see if they’re leveraging any profile-boosting tricks you might have missed.
9. Join groups.
Connecting and creating relationships on LinkedIn is vital in the prospecting process. Treat groups as you would any other forum: Be friendly and offer great advice. Don’t be salesy – you don’t want to be shoving your services down others’ throats. The idea is to build trust and a reputation for quality. Groups are great for referrals and word-of-mouth.
10. Use InMail wisely.
Use the InMail messages you receive as an example of how not to structure your messages to prospects. They’re infamous for being impersonal, pushy, and not strategic. Study their copy and think about their phrasing. What makes them pushy? What words feel awkward and forced? Work backward to produce copy for your company that’s polite, strategic, and warranted.
11. Sync with a CRM.
Once you’ve followed these steps, you should notice an increase in leads coming from LinkedIn. Make sure you have software set up that captures your leads effectively. Syncing your LinkedIn with a CRM will ensure your outreach is contributing to your new-client funnel.
If your company isn’t using LinkedIn for increasing brand awareness, we recommend applying for our team workshop "Building and Leveraging a LinkedIn Profile." Understanding the do’s and don’ts on LinkedIn is pivotal for prospecting effectively. Read more about how the workshop will prepare your team for outreaching on LinkedIn.
Hannah Feran is Axia’s shared media strategist. Clients appreciate Hannah’s attention to detail and passion to exceed their expectations. She works closely with clients to ensure their social media efforts are getting the attention they deserve from a carefully chosen audience. Hannah joined the Axia team in August 2018.