Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Advanced Linkedin Tutorial - How to Prospect Using Linkedin

Use Linkedin Advanced Search to Add High Quality Prospects to Your Connections

In the "olden" days, prospecting was a painful experience.  When you decided to start doing business in a new industry, community, or level of trade, you didn't have any idea who the players were.  You could buy lists, but that didn't give you much additional information about the prospects.  It certainly didn't provide you with any better way to connect.  You could use the list to call or send a mailing.  But that meant 2% responses on mailings or cold calling prospects and listening to endless answering machines.

All that has changed with Linkedin.  Say that I decide to expand my marketing consulting business to include a new vertical.  I have been very successful with my one and only mortgage broker, so I decide to get more mortgage broker clients.  I could still call Info USA and get a national or regional list.  I could go online and search for mortgage brokers and start looking at websites.  I could look for mortgage broker lists online.  Or I could go to the advanced search option on Linkedin.

With the search engine on Linkedin, I am tangentially connected to over 200,000,000 professionals who have at least some kind of listing and profile.  The more sophisticated the individual, the more likely that their profile will provide you with all kinds of useful information.  It can help you determine if they are a prospect, and whether they are the right person to call in the company.  But with the free service you can also read the details of profiles of all 2nd level connections, including their biography, schools attended, previous work history, recommendations of others, and get an idea of how successful they are.  

But what if you don't have many connections, so have only limited 2nd level connections?  Increase your connections.  Adding more 1st level connections results in an exponential growth in 2nd level connections.  I would advise trying to immediately move towards 500+ connections if you aren't already there.  Other posts explain how to get to that number over a month or so.  You can elect to pay the nominal fee and see all profiles.

Using Inmail to Make an Initial Contact with a Prospect

You can send anyone an inmail to start the conversation rolling.  You are limited to 10 per month on the first level paid service.  Inmail is a Linkedin mail service that doesn't disclose your prospects email.  The open rate for these kinds of emails is a staggering 40%. I bet cold calling doesn't get you that kind of result.  Of course, the prospect can still ignore your email, but the response rate is also amazingly high on Inmail.

Keep your first email very casual like a first meeting at a party.  Save the selling for later.  Keep in mind that almost all of the prospects that receive this inmail are likely to check out your profile.  Therefore you need to make sure that the profile is a "selling machine."  See our earlier posts on how to create a great LinkedIn profile

To use the advanced search I merely insert any keywords that I like, such as mortgage broker.  Then I can modify the search by many potential criteria such as their Title (Owner, President, CEO, Manager).  If I really want to drill down on criteria, I will have to pay Linkedin a modest monthly fee.  But for free, I can look at a defined geographic area, limit the search to various levels of connections, and call out the industry they are in (e.g. Financial Services).

Keep in mind that the keyword does NOT have to identify a profession, but can be anything that might show up in the profile.  So if you are a wedding photographer and you are hoping to connect with other wedding professionals in your area, you can just type in the keyword wedding.   Up will pop wedding planners, wedding cake decorators, wedding ring retailers, etc.

Setting Up a Continuing Alert for Prospects on Linkedin's Automatic Search Alert

Once you find a good set of criteria that is delivering relevant prospects, you can warehouse these by saving them.  You can have 3 saved searches for free.  Now, by paying the upgrade monthly fee you can not only save more groups of prospects, but you can also set up the Automatic Search Alert.  With this system, Linkedin will send you a notice if anyone is added to Linkedin that meets your requirements.  In my case, any time a new mortgage broker listed himself with that keyword on Linkedin I would get a notice.

Another way to use the Search capability is to surround the wagons.  I have a client who wants to do business with several large customers.  They have many buyers, sales managers, vice presidents, and field reps who might have a say in the decision to carry his products.  By adding one member of that organization, I will now have 2nd degree connections to many of the others.  By adding a few of those, I'll probably have most of the sales staff and also purchasing.  As I add each one, others who I invite to connect will see that we have many connections in common, making their decision to connect easier.

Once I have a large number on board, I can start to inmail them to build up my case from the bottom up.  I might do this through polling them on subjects related or even unrelated to my product line.  Or I might just chat them up about people we know in common.  By looking at profiles I will also know a lot about them.  When appropriate I can start to make the case of my product.

Help us help others.  How are you using the Linkedin Search to prospect for clients?

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: