A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Connecting With A Goldmine Of Prospects On Linkedin

September 15, 2015 Sam Laber

Do you prospect on Linkedin? If not, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of potential customers and valuable connections.

Not only does Linkedin give you access to a lot of promising contacts, but it also gives you numerous chances to put yourself in front of them. Instead of having to introduce yourself as a total stranger, you can organically build relationships with people and eventually bring up your product in conversations.

Here are some of the most effective methods to find your next 1000 customers.

1. Capturing Prospects From Linkedin Groups

Note: This strategy requires participation from both sales and marketing, but it can be highly effective.

Let’s say that your target prospects are sales managers. Brainstorm a few keywords that are relevant to this line of work. Some ideas:

  • Sales
  • Sales management
  • Lead generation

Pop each keyword into search and select Groups on the sidebar. Join large groups and scroll back a few pages to find smaller ones. A bigger group gives you access to the equivalent of a stadium of people. A smaller group gives you a better chance of being noticed and remembered.

Now this is where the cardinal rule of relationship building and lead nurturing comes into play: give, give, give before expecting and asking for anything in return.

First check out who the group manager is. This is the first person you want to leave a good impression with since they have yay/nay power over any future content you contribute. Find and add them on all their social media so when they ask a question or ask for advice, you can swoop in with valuable help. Repeat exposure to you will help them remember who you are.

Other ways to fast-track building a relationship with them:

  • request a relevant quote from them to use in any content or social media marketing your company is currently doing (your marketing team will love this :) )
  • connect them with someone who will be useful for their business
  • find out their hobbies and interests and alert them to exciting opportunities they are unlikely to stumble across themselves

Next up, you want to make a name for yourself. This involves asking thought-provoking questions and providing valuable insights. What is thought-provoking and valuable? Strategies, mindsets and methods that not too many people know about (you can test this: does it appear in the first three pages of Google results?) or challenges prevailing practices or beliefs.

Review the group’s previous discussions to get an idea of which ones attract the most comments – Linkedin automatically sorts discussions by popularity.

After you build a sterling reputation for yourself and forge a relationship with the group manager, ask him or her ahead of time if you can submit one piece of your own content to this group. Most online community groups these days shun spammy self-promotion so getting a green light from the moderators mean your content won’t get deleted before it gets a chance to prove itself.

The type of content that performs well these days is comprehensive, step-by-step guides to achieve a specific result. It also helps to give away compelling extras like worksheets, checklists and templates. If your company is already producing content in this style, great! If not, find 3-5 great examples they can reference as a guide.

Create a topic and style guideline so your content team can whip up something suitable for your Linkedin group. You listen to your prospects’ problems day in and day out so you know best what they want to learn.

Example Of A Style Guide:

Audience demographics: marketing managers at medium to large companies running global campaigns

Topic ideas:

  • effective tools to effortlessly track marketing KPIs (organic searches, landing page conversions, etc.) + 3 report templates they can use to present data and ROI in an easy to understand way
  • step-by-step guide on how to seamlessly integrate customer data collection into their everyday workflow (the majority of marketing teams currently have poor data collection practices)

Format: ebook guide in PDF format

Good guides for inspiration:

  • Example Link 1
  • Example Link 2
  • Example Link 3

Style:

  • Screenshots to illustrate how to perform multi-step processes
  • Humor is good (especially when it pokes fun at the banes every marketer endures)

Once the draft is done, if they’re not already writing in it, ask your content team to paste the text into Google Docs. Review it to make sure the content, images and tone of voice is a good match for your Linkedin group. Recommend edits where necessary until you finesse it into a can’t-stop-reading piece of content.

Once the content is a-ok, it’s time to pass the baton to your web design team. You want them to create an email capture squeeze page for your ebook guide where the reader submits their email address and gets redirected to the PDF download.

Here’s a great example from Hubspot:

HubSpot Templates

Connect your design team with your marketing team. You want your signup form to feed email addresses to a separate list in your email marketing service. This way, your marketing team can set up a drip email campaign that gets triggered whenever someone sign ups through this specific form.

A drip email campaign involves pre-writing a series of emails and setting a schedule for when you want them to be sent out. Once someone signs up with their email, the service starts “dripping” the email sequence to them per the preset schedule.

Again, since you deal directly with your company’s prospects and customers every day, you know best what problems they want solved or what topics they want to learn about. Work with your marketing team to decide what topic each email should cover. Focus on teaching your prospects one tactic per email. The purpose of this educational drip campaign is to slowly familiarize your prospect with your company, earn their trust and establish your company’s know-how in this field.

Here’s an example of a drip campaign Email1K sent out:

l

Post a link to your squeeze page to your Linkedin group with a teaser description. Remember to ask a thought-provoking question related to your topic to kick off a discussion. The more comments your post attracts, the higher it will rise per Linkedin’s popularity ranking.

Next, ask your marketing team to give you regular updates on the email campaign’s stats. Who’s opening the emails?  Who’s re-opening the emails? High level of engagement = a promising prospect. Grab the names and emails of all the highly engaged subscribers and research their backgrounds. Do they have a need for your product? If so, this is when you can send them a personalized email introducing them to your company.

Another benefit of joining Linkedin groups is, as you put yourself in front of more people, some of them will add you as a connection. The more people you’re connected with, the wider network of 2nd and 3rd degree connections you have access to. You can also directly message these contacts for free.

When you add someone, or someone adds you from a group, don’t just slam the accept button and promptly forget they even exist.  Start a conversation with them. Poke around their social media profiles and research their company to find a suitable opener. It can be as simple as responding to one of their recent tweets.

Let’s say your prospect said something like:

You can easily open with:

Re: tweaking cold email campaigns

This has totally been my experience as well. I personally craft unique emails to the first ~15 prospects, tweaking key parts like the subject line and value prop to see what gets more opens/clicks. Then I turn the best performing email into a template to be sent en masse.

The point of familiarizing yourself with new Linkedin contacts, even ones you don’t really know, is to open the door for exchanging favors down the road.

Let’s say that they have a contact who you would like to connect with. After having a few conversations with them, you can ask them to intro you:

Hey First Name,

How have you been? I noticed you’re connected with Contact. I saw her writing a lot recently about struggling to keep up with never-ending email chains. Love to chat with Contact about ways having group chats can free up a lot of that precious inbox space while being way easier to stay on top of.

Would you mind doing an intro?

Grazie mille!

Signoff

2. Finding Prospects Who Use A Competing Product

For a quick list of companies using a competing product, simply type the competitor’s company name into search and click on Jobs on the sidebar. If you want a more targeted list, change Country to the one most of your customers come from.

For obvious reasons, skip the job listings from the actual competitor. What’s left are companies who use your competitor (and thus mention it in their job listing as a product to be familiar with) and may be hankering for a better solution.

Here’s what I got when I popped Salesforce into search:

3. Finding The Right Person To Contact At Any Company

Let’s say you wanted to find the highest level employee in charge of sales at a certain company.

In Google, type “site: Linkedin [Name of Company] sales”. If it’s a big company, adding the keyword “vp” to your search may narrow the results down a little more.

Here are the results I got when I searched for the most senior sales manager at Jellyvision. Scrolling down I found Josh Fosburg, VP of Sales … bingo!

Click through to their profile to review their details to decide if they are the best person to contact. Check if you have any mutual contacts to see if you can ask anyone to introduce you to him (refer to message template used above). If not, go through their social media profiles to collect some background details you can use to personalize a cold email to them.

4. Send An Email To Your Linkedin Contacts

What if I told you, you have a database of valuable contacts and potential prospects right under your nose? And you didn’t even have to do anything to collect them? Well, not a lot of people know this feature exists but Linkedin actually lets you export the email addresses of all your Linkedin contacts to a .csv file. (Another reason why it’s a good idea to connect with as many relevant Linkedin users as possible.)

Go to: Linkedin.com/people/export-settings

Of course, don’t try to sell anything to your Linkedin contacts in the first email. You don’t want to be that person. I recommend removing all your real life friends from this list since the wording of your mass email would be better suited for professional contacts.

In your first email, simply offer to help these contacts with something a lot of your prospects have to do for work. This email is meant to be a feeler that lets you see who is interested in engaging with you. Offering help first also invokes people’s natural instinct to reciprocate in some way.

To email everyone in your Linkedin, upload the .csv file to Google Drive and open it in Google Sheets. Note: This method makes it look like you emailed each contact individually through Gmail. I don’t recommend using an email marketing service to mass email your Linkedin contacts since the email’s layout and footer will be a dead giveaway you emailed this to hundreds of people. And then they’ll wonder why you added them to a marketing email list without their permission.

Your .csv file in Google Sheets will look something like this:

To send mass personalized emails, install this free Chrome extension called Yet Another Mail Merge.

In your spreadsheet, drag the E-mail Address column to the left so it becomes the first column (Yet Another Mail Merge needs columns in this order for it to work):

Rename the column E-mail Address to Email Address.

Compose a new email in Gmail to be mass sent to all your Linkedin contacts. Something like:

Subject: How can I help?

Hey [First Name],

How’ve you been? Sapph from [Your Company] here.

After A/B testing hundreds of subject lines, headlines and measuring the conversion rate differences between using “get onboard” versus “join”, I’ve developed a bit of a spidey sense for what words nudge people to act. And what keeps them in their default state of doing nothing.

So have a value prop that needs a little extra oomph? Or a headline you want Buzzfeed-fied? Just hit reply and I can give you a hand. :)

Signoff

Important: You must start off your email with something that includes [First Name] . The Yet Another Mail Merge extension will automatically replace [First Name] with the first name of each individual contact in your list when you send out the email.

When you’re done writing the email, save it as a draft.

In Google Sheets, go to Add-ons – Yet Another Mail Merge – Start Mail Merge

The lightbox below will pop up. Find your email draft from the dropdown menu. Check  “Track emails” (it’ll add a new column called MERGE_STATUS to your spreadsheet – periodically check this spreadsheet to see which contacts have opened your email.)

Now click “Send Emails” and the extension will send an email to all the contacts in your list.

So as you can see, Linkedin is an immensely useful tool for discovering, connecting with and identifying prospects. Its other major benefit is, since it is a networking site, many of its members are open to connecting and trading favors. So you can leverage your connections to jump from “hello” to “how can I help” with a new prospect in as little as two messages. Aaah the beauty of the Internet!

Have any other methods of prospect hunting on Linkedin that works well? Love to hear it in the comments below!

About the Author: Sapph Li is a conversion copywriter and designer. When not running outreach and prospecting campaigns, she can be found enjoying the great outdoors (and getting swarmed by mosquitoes).

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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