Katie Tolin, CPA Growth Guides
There are many features of a free LinkedIn account that will help you with prospecting. In reality, most people only need the free account. The key is knowing how to search so you do not waste efforts with results that do not provide value.
Learn Boolean Search
Those of you who are power searchers on-line are probably quite familiar with Boolean searches. For those of you who do not use this feature, you are really missing out. In a Boolean search, you can combine keywords with operators like AND, NOT, and OR (yes, they need to be in all caps) to get the exact results you are looking for. You also can use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase and parenthesis to do more complex searches.
You can do a Boolean search within any LinkedIn search bar to help you find exactly who you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for the CFO or president of a company, you could search for “President” OR “CFO.” Quotation marks especially come in handy with more complex titles like VP of finance. If you do not put quotes around the title, you will get results for anyone with VP or finance in their title.
LinkedIn has a great tip sheet to help you understand how to use Boolean searches. Use it for all areas you search, not just with titles.
Use the Advanced Search
You can get a lot of information in the general search bar at the top of the LinkedIn page. However, the real power of search is found in the ‘Advanced’ link just to the right of that bar.
There are a lot of criteria you can search for including keywords, name, title, company, school, location, relationship, industry, and much more. Here are a few tips to help you use these features:
Relationship. Check all the relationship boxes to start. If you end up with too many results, you can begin reducing those group and third degree connections. It is easier to narrow then it is to expand. Really use your second connections for background information and introductions; it is a great way to get a warm lead.
- Current Company. This allows you to add the name of your prospect company to see everyone who works there currently. This can be further narrowed down by using things like title or school if you are trying to find an in.
- Location. There are two ways to look at location. First, you can search for a major metropolitan area, and you will get profiles of people who are in that area. That is great, unless you are responsible for a geography outside of that metropolitan area. In that case, you can search in or around a zip code. When you enter a zip code, a new search box pops up with criteria in increments from 10 to 100 miles from that zip code.
- Keywords. If you are looking for certain words contained in a profile, this is how you will find them. It could be a skill someone has or any criteria not contained in another search function.
- Industry. Are your responsible for lead generation within a specific industry? This will be your favorite feature as you will be able to narrow down your results to those industries you are tasked with pursuing.
- Save. After you have conducted a search, you can save it. All you do is give it a name and you can return to it at any point in time. Even better – this is a self-updating prospect list. If new individuals are pulled into this search, you will get a weekly alert letting you know who they are.
The more search features you use, the more targeted your list will be. You do not have time to look through 5,000 search results. However, 50 seems achievable. Refine long lists so you have a manageable number of people for prospecting.
If you are using LinkedIn to build relationships and share content with your prospects, you will want to know if you are making progress. There are some sort-term metrics that you should be aware of like number of connections, shares and likes, and engagement.
If you are sharing valuable content and using existing connections to network with new ones, you should see your number of connections increase. You also will want to look at the number of followers you have; people you are not connected to can follow your activity. These are potential leads that you may want to reach out to, as they are interested in what you have to say.
When you push content out via a status update or blog post, you are able to see the number of shares, likes, and comments you receive. You can determine what information is getting the best response to help guide future shares. If you have access to your company page, be sure to look at the analytics on that page, as well. There are great charts provided that give you insight into who is engaging with your firm.
Enhance Your Networking
Learn more about your prospects by seeing how they engage on LinkedIn. Go to a person’s profile. Next to the boxes that say ‘Send a message’ and ‘Endorse,’ there is a small arrow. When you move your cursor over it, you have an option to ‘view recent activity.’ This is an archive of those things the person has shared as well as things they like – information that will give you deeper insight into the individual.
Pull up a partner’s profile (or any first connection’s for that matter), and search their connections. Use Boolean search to help you see who they know. You can now work with them to pursue potential business they probably have not considered. Best yet, you have a solid introduction with a warm prospect.
LinkedIn does more than help you keep in contact with old college and work friends. You can use it to develop real time prospect lists to fill your sales funnel. As it gets harder to make connections with prospects, use LinkedIn to help you find warm leads and a way in the door.
Sources: Lead Prospecting on LinkedIn, a PeopleLinx webinar; LinkedIn, Talent Solutions Resources & Tips; and How to Measure Your LinkedIn Activities, Social Media Examiner.