I recently conducted a workshop on how to use LinkedIn as powerful prospecting and lead generation tool. Several of the participants were surprised to learn that they could be sitting on a potential gold mine of potential leads and referrals. Their lack of understanding, or even fear, was preventing them from fully tapping this rich resource.
Referral marketing is the number one technique for building a successful career and a thriving business. A qualified referral is the highest quality lead. Many top professionals already know this, and use it to their advantage. For others, however, the ability to generate these leads on a consistent basis continues to be a challenge.
Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, have helped make this job easier. I’m going to share with you how top professionals use LinkedIn proactively, to generate high quality leads and referrals, superior results and consistent growth.
Why LinkedIn Is the Best Option
LinkedIn has over 300 million users globally, and was one of the earliest professional networking sites. It’s designed to search for individuals, which makes it an ideal prospecting tool. LinkedIn is also a free service; there is an option to upgrade to a paid account, but most of the features you will need for prospecting are available free.
Here are six things you can achieve using LinkedIn:
Build and organise your professional network
There are two ways to build your network: you can reach out to people you already know directly, or you can find new connections through groups that are related to your expertise and interests.
Gain insights into targeted companies and individuals
When you target prospective clients, you can use LinkedIn to look up their company page, learn more about the company, and locate other prospective clients. You can set up an alert, and follow the company to stay abreast of company and industry developments.
When you have connections on LinkedIn, in most cases you will also be able to see their connections. If your connections have elected to keep their networks private, then you will only be able to see any mutual connections. Most people (including me) prefer to make their contacts visible to everyone. This makes it easy to search the networks of others, so as to identify prospective clients. I’ll cover this in detail shortly.
Identify prospects by industry or by location
LinkedIn allows you to search within a particular type of business, or by geographic location.
Find individuals within a company
One of the best features of LinkedIn is the ability to locate and identify key people within a particular business. There are two methods: you can simply type in the name of the company in the search field to see individuals you can relate to, and how you are connected. Or you can use the advanced search features and combine this with the geographic search to pinpoint individuals.
Narrow down your universe
If you specialise in a niche market, identifying prospective clients can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. LinkedIn can help you to build a list of prospective clients (suspects) more quickly, and to find a path to be introduced, or reach out to them.
Define Your Ideal Client
To build a targeted list of high potential prospective clients you need to be very clear about who you are looking for. Once you know that, everything else will fall into place.
To develop your ideal client profile, first make a list of your best clients. These are your top 20%, in terms of revenue.
Then determine their positive characteristics and traits, using the following checklist:
How to Generate Social Media Referrals
Here are five steps towards generating high-quality referrals, using LinkedIn. There is a paid option, but when you implement the steps I’ve outlined, you might find the free version is all you need.
This is straightforward. I recommend using your business e-mail address instead of your personal one. People use LinkedIn for a variety of purposes, such as job hunting, and will often use their personal e-mail address. As your focus is on business development, use your business e-mail address.
This is your online presence, and there is a wizard to guide you along. Here are some tips to building a great profile:
Here are five ways to build your network quickly:
The power of LinkedIn is that once you have connected with people, in most cases you will be able to see the connections in their networks. They will show up as second-degree connections for you, meaning that you are only one step away from them. Select five to ten of your top clients, and review their networks.
I have designed some sample scripts, to obtain an introduction to a prospective client, in a variety of situations. If you would like a copy just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whenever you want to do something, there are usually two ways to go about it – the hard way and the easy way. Doing referral marketing with LinkedIn is the easy way. You can develop high quality leads and referrals to build your business. I have no financial interest in LinkedIn, but I have shown many clients how to use it properly. They have all done so profitably, and have enjoyed working within their comfort zone to create an overflowing sales pipeline.