LinkedIn is the most obvious medium on which to find new customers, partners and stakeholders. In this article, we give you 4 tips to track down relevant people and make connections with potential customers in an effective manner.
UPDATE: This article was updated in February 2018
1. Create a persona
It is a good idea to be aware of all of your stakeholders, including businesses, organizations, industries and consumers, whom you think might be interested in your products or services. Furthermore, there are the more obvious topics, such as those you have already done business with, as well as potential ambassadors for your business, future employees, suppliers, partners, etc.
To find these interesting targets or leads, you have to know where they are. Whether you use LinkedIn for lead generation or other purposes, it’s a great idea to create a customer persona. Look at the people you already work with or want to work with, and map who they are in terms of age, nationality, education, gender, etc. Consider what they do, their qualifications and their role in their business and then make a comprehensive list of these traits. Once you have clarified the essential characteristics of your company’s stakeholders, you can start looking for them.
2. Make an advanced search
The easiest way to identify your persona is by using an advanced search. Click “All Filters” on the top right of the search box on LinkedIn. Here you can search on keywords (words people use to describe themselves), title (Account Manager, Recruiter, CEO, etc.), company and much more. There are a limited number of searches in the free version of LinkedIn, so it is an advantage to make your search as specific as possible. Although it will yield fewer results, the results you get will be of higher quality.
To get the best results in your search, you can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT). OR is used to search multiple criteria simultaneously, e.g. different ways of describing skills. AND is used to narrow the search by adding more criteria to the same search, e.g. a combination of a particular industry and specific skills. NOT is used to exclude words from the search. An example of the use of the three can be:
CEO OR Founder OR Owner AND sales AND telemarketing NOT hunter
Note: It is important that the operators are written in upper case letters when you make a Boolean search. Also, use quotes (e.g. “Account Manager”) to show that the words should be considered as a single search term.
It is an advantage to save your searches, so that you can use them again later. Start by typing them in Word, so you can check your spelling. This way your search is saved for future use.
You can also save the link to your search by copying the URL from the browser and pasting it into a Word document. This allows you to just click on the link to return to your search.
3. Find people where they are
There are other effective ways to find interesting topics.
Based on your persona, you can identify companies that might be relevant to search in. This only requires that the company have a Company Page. You are looking for companies in the search box by sorting by companies in the left side.
One advantage of searching by firms is that you can see who you already know in the company and contact that person through LinkedIn. On the right side of the Company Page, you can click “See All” – here you can see people who are connected to the company, and how you are connected with these people (on the new Company Pages the employees will be listed below the company description). It is possible to send a message to people in first degrees (people you yourself are connected with), but always check your connections in a company before you contact a person. If one of your own connections knows the interesting person, you can ask for an introduction.
LinkedIn groups are a great place to find interesting targets for your business because you already have something in common, namely that you are part of the same group. This also gives you a reason to connect with other group members. Once you become a member of a group, you can press the number of members and search for people based on name or title. Once you have found the right one, you can write to the person or invite them to connect. Here you should always attach a personal message to your invitation, in which you explain why you should connect.
You can also search your connections’ connections, unless they have turned this feature off (this function is disabled if the number of connections is displayed in black instead of blue). It is possible to search by keywords and title.
4. Connect and communicate
After you identify the people you want to contact, the next step is to connect with them. There are various ways you can do so. You can send a personal invitation. Here, there is a limit of 300 characters, so make sure to state who you are and what your purpose is to connect, at a minimum.
As mentioned, it is effective to ask a common connection for an introduction. Contact the person you have in common through email or phone and ask about their knowledge and relation to the person you want to contact. When you send an invitation to the person, be sure to refer to your common connection to point out that you actually have something in common.
Private messages on LinkedIn can be a valuable method to develop relationships and strengthen your brand, but be careful not to spam people with irrelevant or advertising content for your company. Use LinkedIn’s messaging capabilities to enrich and share valuable content. After a few messages back and forth with your new connection, it is okay to propose a meeting.
The tips above are for finding people interesting to your business, but it does not mean that you need to connect with everything and everyone. Focus on those who can contribute something to your business – and be aware that you can send out a maximum of 3000 invitations.
Do you have any advice for tracking down relevant people on LinkedIn?
Please share them in the comment box below.