You may be looking for the silver bullet for prospecting success. I don’t have it. Yet, LinkedIn is a promising tool that you should consider. It might not be the silver bullet you are hoping for, but it just might make your prospecting easier.
Seek and you shall find.
Here’s how I recommend you start using LinkedIn to find your qualified leads. Do a search by either company or job title. You know the job titles of the people you tend to sell to and who buy your products. Add the city that you’re looking to locate those people with that title.
You will find a wealth of information if you have identified ideal prospects and the specific companies that meet your requirements. Just search on the company name if you are specifically looking to sell to that company. You will see who is listed on LinkedIn at that company. I recommend you read all about them on their profile. Look for commonalities of work history, business interests, or other interests. You will need that information later when you ask to link to them.
How to connect.
It’s easy to simply hit connect when you want to be connected to someone new. Don’t do it. Why? You are less likely to get agreement to connect to someone who doesn’t know you and when you use the generic LinkedIn message. Would you respond to someone you don’t know who sends you “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”? I don’t think so. The people who know about LinkedIn and how to use it see those who use this canned response as being more amateur because they didn’t know enough to customize their link request.
Be careful. Always go to the person’s full profile page and then hit the “connect” button so you are able to personalize your message.
How to start your note.
Your job is to make your connection request personal and compelling. Start with the person’s name. Use the professional title like Dr. as you address your request. I advise staying away from a too casual salutation. “Hey, John” is too informal when you don’t know someone. “Dear John” could work, but in the LinkedIn context I think you should be conversational. “Good morning” is acceptable even if you don’t actually know they will be reading the email in the morning. It’s not too casual. I recommend simply starting the email with their first name.
Get connected in 300 characters.
Acknowledge the situation. State if you don’t know the person. Then be clear about why you do want to link to the person. Is it something they wrote? Is a common interest in a topic? There should be a valid business reason to connect. A compliment always helps. You can say that you were impressed with the article you read or heard wonderful things about his or her work. Be honest and look for ways to acknowledge the person. Then state that you would like to connect so you can keep in touch or simply that you want to connect. After you connect, look for ways to meet or speak on the telephone.
Another way to connect.
You may not realize that you can email anyone else in the group if you’re also a member of the group. I recommend using the groups function to see if someone you want to connect with is also a member of a group that you are in. You don’t have to wait for the response to the linked request.
Start to track your LinkedIn results. I predict that your prospecting results will improve when you use LinkedIn. Who needs a silver bullet when your sales results improve?