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social media how toDo you use LinkedIn to find potential clients?

Want to use LinkedIn more effectively?

To grow your network, you need to build relationships and become an invaluable resource to others.

In this article you’ll discover how to use LinkedIn to better connect with leads and prospects.

grow linkedin leads

Find out how to grow leads with your LinkedIn profile.

Listen to this article:

#1: Optimize Your Profile

If you want to have success on LinkedIn, it’s essential to have a profile that’s professional, search-optimized and (most importantly) client-focused. In other words, your LinkedIn profile must speak to your ideal clients and tell them how you can help them.

First of all, make sure you use the same keywords in your profile that your ideal clients would input when doing a search for someone with your specialty. Don’t be creative. Instead, be strategic in your choice of language.

For example, someone who’s looking for a person to build them a new website might type “website designer” or “website developer” into the search. If that’s a service you offer, then put those words in your LinkedIn profile.

linkedin profile

For your LinkedIn profile, choose keywords that your ideal clients would use to search for someone who does what you do.

Choose up to three keywords and include them throughout your profile (in logical places and in professional ways).

Some of the most important places to include these keywords are in your:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Current work experience (in the title and description)
  • At least one past work experience (in the title and description)
  • Skills

Being found in search results is important, but it’s not everything. You also need to have a headline that makes people want to click on your profile. Once they get to your profile, you need an enticing summary.

Include the following in your summary:

  • One to two paragraphs telling your story: who you are, why do you do what you do, what makes you credible
  • Who your ideal clients are
  • What problem your ideal clients face
  • What solutions you offer to solve those problems
  • Call to action: what you want them to do next (call, email, connect with you, etc.)
linkedin profile summary

Andy Crestodina has a well-written Summary.

#2: Join LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups are an excellent place to start to grow your network.

LinkedIn currently allows you to join up to 50 groups, so join as many as possible. The biggest mistake most people make is they join most or all industry-specific groups. It’s fine to join a few to stay up to date on industry trends. However, the vast majority of the groups you join should be the ones your ideal clients are in.

The distribution of groups you join should look something like this:

  • Groups that contain your ideal clients: 80%
  • Special interest groups (i.e., personal and professional interest groups): 10%
  • Industry groups: 10%

To locate potential prospects within each group, enter the group you want to prospect and click on the number of members, located in the top right-hand corner of each group. Scroll through the group members to see if there is someone you want to invite to connect.

linkedin group header

Click on the number of members located in the top right corner of the group to see the list of group members.

LinkedIn will show all your first-degree connections in the group first and only list 500 members of the group. You may have to use the search box located at the top of the page to find other members who would make good prospects. Search for relevant keywords, job titles or locations.

linkedin group search

You can search for specific members by searching in groups using keywords, job titles or locations.

Use the characteristics of your ideal client to search for and make new connections.

#3: Save Successful Advanced Searches

LinkedIn’s advanced search tool is also great for finding potential prospects. It offers excellent functionality with the ability to search for people by keywords, relationship, groups, location and industry, which are all available with a free account.

linkedin advanced search

Search for prospects in advanced search by keyword, location, relationships, industry and groups.

Along with filters, advanced search uses what is known as a Boolean search. This combines words and phrases with the words and, or, not and near to limit, widen or define your search. The people who come up will not always be perfectly targeted, but it will narrow your search down. Make sure to remove first-degree connections from your search parameters, since they are already part of your network.

If you find that a particular search is producing great results, save that search using the Saved Searches function.

linkedin saved search

You can save productive searches with the Saved Searches feature.

LinkedIn will send you an email once a week when someone fits the search criteria you set up. You can have up to three Saved Searches with a free account.

#4: Create a Sequence of Messages

It is not enough to just grow your network. Build a relationship with your new connections. Send a sequence of value-based messages to your prospects.

The Message

Always take the time to personalize each message appropriately before sending it. Use your connection’s first name and add any details that will improve the message and make it feel more personal. The more individualized your messages, the better the results.

The purpose of the sequence of messages is to build a relationship with new connections and open up a dialog. When done right, this will establish you as an authority on your topic or niche. Plus, you’ll become a valuable resource to your prospects.

While this may seem counterintuitive, none of these messages should include any of your products or services. It is extremely important that you do not include anything that could be perceived as spam or a sales pitch in your messages. This is the fastest way to kill any potential sale.

linkedin message

It’s important to personalize and plan out your messaging.

What the messages should include is information that would be considered valuable to your prospect. This includes links to relevant articles, checklists, white papers, case studies, reports, eBooks, videos or downloads. These resource materials can be ones you either created or curated, but they must be of professional quality and solve a pain point or help prospects make educated future decisions.

The Message Sequence

After your initial connection request, send a message thanking the person for connecting. If feasible, include one valuable resource in this first message.

Then, depending on your goals and industry, prepare one or two relationship-building messages to send out over the next couple of weeks. You can also send another resource or two, such as relevant stats or helpful tips.

After a couple of messages, if you feel like you have established some rapport, move the relationship offline. Suggest a phone call, Skype call or in-person meeting. No relationship with a potential prospect should be kept solely on LinkedIn—or on any online platform, for that matter.

If you want to turn a prospect into a client, a real conversation must take place. The only potential exception is if you’re selling low-priced online products.

#5: Share Content With Your Network

Use LinkedIn to establish yourself as an industry expert and an invaluable source of information. Create and curate information that’s of interest to your target market.

If you have the time and resources, create your own content to share. Write articles, shoot videos, etc. Even if you choose to produce your own material, you’ll want to share content created by others as well.

There are many places you can look to find things to share. Just remember to always take the time to read through or watch any content before you share it to make sure it’s high-quality and relevant to your audience.

linkedin pulse

Search LinkedIn Pulse for content to share.

Here are a number of places to look for content:

  • LinkedIn Pulse
  • Twitter
  • Related groups on social media sites
  • Company blogs
  • Newsletters of relevant online magazines, companies and experts
  • Industry sites

Spend even a small part of your day searching relevant sites. That way you stay current with industry trends and news, and find articles to share with your network.

Post Status Updates and Share With LinkedIn Groups

Whenever you post an update, your connections will see it in their news feed and, depending on their settings, get it in an email. This keeps you top of mind and positions you as an expert in your field.

Posting in LinkedIn groups is another way to establish your credibility, while helping you build relationships with potential prospects within a group. Do not post promotional information about yourself or your business in groups. Many group owners will remove offenders from their group for this kind of behavior. Even if you’re not removed from the group, you’ll start to become known as a spammer, and your fellow group members will ignore your posts.

For both status updates and group posts, when you share a link to a post, it’s important to add your own comment. Put the comment in the form of a question, since it’s more likely to start a conversation. This is often a requirement when posting in groups, too.

linkedin content share

Ask a question when you post a status update or content to groups. It’ll generate more engagement.

For example, when I shared an article called, “10 Data-Driven Steps to Dominate LinkedIn Publishing,” I added this: “Want more views, comments and shares on your LinkedIn Publisher posts? Read this article for 10 steps to get great results!”

LinkedIn Publisher

One other place to share content for the greatest return on your time and effort is on LinkedIn Publisher. It’s an excellent platform to reach beyond your personal network. LinkedIn Publisher is similar to a blog, but has the ability to get you substantially more views and impact.

Conclusion

There are plenty of things you can do to use LinkedIn as a source for leads, clients and (eventually) income.

After you find a good prospect, send a connection request. I cannot stress enough that you MUST personalize the request and give your connections a reason to accept your invitation. You only have 300 characters, so your reason must be short and convincing.

If you dedicate time each day to completing these activities, you’ll grow a valuable network filled with potential prospects. Build your relationships and become an essential resource to your prospects. As a result, you’ll become their top choice when they are ready to make a purchase.

What do you think? How do you find prospects on LinkedIn? Where do you find content to share? In what groups have you found most leads? What’s your top revenue-generating activity on LinkedIn? Share your tips in the comments.

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  • Ishita Ganguly

    Well-written article.

    But I disagree on one point, e.g “include one valuable resource in this first message.” The other person might think that I am trying to sell him my content, considering the fact that we are still strangers. This practice could be mistaken as spamming, especially in the content-overload era.

    What do you feel?

  • Christopher Gee

    Surely you want the other person to know you are trying to sell them something. right from the start. Maybe your valuable resource could be a sentence about why you aren’t sending them content and that selling on a personal level is more important to you.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    It depends on how you do it and if the content is very relevant to the receiver. It works well when done right 😉

  • Jean Burges

    This is an extremely helpful article. Excellent explanation of step-by-step process of building real relationships through groups (I’ve seen this before but only in bits and pieces). And other suggestions are quite helpful as well. I thought my profile was really tight, but I can see that there are ways I can improve it. Many thanks.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    You are most welcome Jean, I’m so glad you found the article helpful 😉

  • Great article @meloniedodaro:disqus and really good approach to follow. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Melonie Dodaro

    Thanks Joe!

  • @meloniedodaro:disqus, loved the article and the actionable steps you shared. Picked up a few tips to implement as well!

  • Dana Fowler

    Great article. Thank you Melonie! I am a business development consultant and would like to start creating some of my own original content. Is it best to start with blogging or some other more formal publication approach – i.e. article in a credible journal, eBook or other? Which is more valuable in your opinion?

  • Great post Melonie 🙂 I have been putting it off for a long time, but after reading this I actually feel excited to start utilizing LinkedIn!