In movies and TV shows, there’s this thing called a “meet-cute.”
Simply put, a meet-cute is the fateful moment in a story where romantic interests meet for the first time in an endearing, funny, or overall memorable way and hit it off.
Unfortunately, in the business world (and in real life for that matter), professional meet-cutes are rare and far in between. More commonly, marketers and salesmen need to take it upon themselves to go out and find and evaluate the perfect prospects for their organization.
One of the most powerful and effective arenas for doing this is LinkedIn, but surprisingly, most companies are not sure how to go about doing it the right way.
To help you get started, let's go through the two main things you really need to know about successful LinkedIn Prospecting: How to Find the Right People and How to Start the Conversation.
How to Find the Right People
The key to successful LinkedIn Prospecting is knowing how and where to find the right people for your organization a.k.a. people who fit your buyer persona.
Once you have your persona(s) and ideal client criteria defined (i.e. Industry, Job Title, Geographic Location, Company Size, etc.), you can use these four LinkedIn features to begin your hunt.
1. Advanced Search
Most users don’t realize how powerful LinkedIn’s Advanced Search really is. Beyond the little search bar at the top of your screen is a comprehensive search engine where you can refine your hunt specifically to your keywords or ideal client criteria such as:
If you have a LinkedIn Premium Account (Specifically Sales Navigator Professional or Recruiter Lite), you can narrow your results further to their interests, company size, function, and even years of experience.
Overall, the network’s Advanced Search provides a unique prospecting opportunity to find and qualify individuals without even picking up a phone.
2. “People Also Viewed…”
We’ve all seen this box on the sidebar of public profiles. Though slightly intrusive, this field can offer valuable insight into your prospect’s network and their company’s corporate structure.
For example, take a look at the field from IMPACT Marketing Director, John Bonini’s LinkedIn profile.
If you were unfamiliar with IMPACT prior to finding John, this box reveals a wealth of prospecting information about our company, including the names of both the CEO and COO, as well as a number of past and current employees. Details like this not only add color to the overall portrait of the company, but they also reveal a chain of command and direct access to decision makers.
3. Industry Groups
LinkedIn Industry Groups are designed to be a forum for individuals from similar professional backgrounds to meet and discuss current events, common problems, ideas, and overall, connect over their shared interests.
While the group discussions alone provide valuable insight into your buyer persona’s concerns and thought processes, their membership rosters also give you access to an exclusive list of people who are actively listening and may be interested in your service or product.
By monitoring and belonging to Industry Groups, you are granted access to view more profile details of these members than you would by just viewing their individual public profiles. These details let you further qualify or disqualify the member as a potential prospect, and your shared group membership acts as a friendly icebreaker for future conversations and outreach attempts.
4. Company Page
For B2B organizations, LinkedIn Company Pages are a great resource for gathering important information about the state of your prospect straight from the source. This may include, but is not limited to:
Information like this can help you further determine if the company is a suitable prospect and also gives you a clearer understanding of what you could be getting into.
It provides you with an inside look at what your prospect’s current concerns and initiatives are so that you can provide more context and relevance to your product or service when you contact them.
How to Start the Conversation
So you’ve found your prospects and done your research into their companies, but how do you break the ice? How do you get the conversation started?
LinkedIn can be a bit tricky when it comes to directly contacting people. While some may provide their email address, phone number, or even Twitter handle on their profiles, others may appear to be just out of reach behind LinkedIn’s iron gates (a.k.a. privacy settings.) Fortunately, despite these obstacles, the platform does provide you with several unique, native options to reach out.
Unlike many other social networks, LinkedIn allows you to introduce your connections to each other from within the platform.
For example, if you are a 1st connection with a person (as I am with John Bonini, Bob Ruffolo, etc.), and they are connected to someone you’d like to be connected to (in this case, HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah), you can request that they send a message introducing the two of you.
This message helps lay the foundation for your conversation. Instead of being just another connection request in their inbox, you will be the request with a back story. This will not only help you stand out from the crowd, but also provide memorable context to your future relationship. (Like any good meet-cute should.)
Send an InMail Message
If you do not have any shared connections with your prospect (and you have a Premium LinkedIn account) you may consider sending an InMail Message.
Depending on the level of your premium account, you only get a certain number of InMail credits each month, so use this feature sparingly and strategically. With this in mind, you may want to consider reserving InMail for reaching:
Approach InMail as you would any volatile email marketing campaign. You want to have an enticing subject line, convey as much value and purpose in your message as possible in as few words possible, and elicit a follow-up action (in this case, a response or connection request.)
When reaching out for the first time your end-all, be-all goal sould be to be relevant to your prospect’s situation.
Whether its a cold call or an InMail, no one wants to receive unsolicited messages from strangers or organizations trying to talk to them about things they don’t care about; they want to communicate with caring individuals who understand where they’re coming from and can offer value.
Knowing this, use your research from your prospect’s LinkedIn profiles, groups, and company pages to provide as much context to your message as possible. If your message can connect and resonate with your prospect personally, they are more likely to respond.
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