How to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Melonie Dodaro  •  LinkedIn

How to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

LinkedIn is the world’s most effective social media platform for generating B2B leads.

And for any person or business offering a B2B product or service, LinkedIn is the premier lead generation tool to reach decision-makers and business professionals.

This isn’t my opinion. This is a fact.

Studies have shown that 80% of all B2B leads on social media come from LinkedInand 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. Clearly, it is the place to focus your efforts if you want to connect with the right people who can open doors for your business.

Best of all, you don’t need to spend a single dollar on advertising to consistently get good clients through LinkedIn.

If you haven’t been using LinkedIn for lead generation, now is the time to start.

You’ve likely heard the term social selling before and maybe even engaged in it.

But do you know for certain you’re doing it right?

Because there’s a lot of confusion about what social selling is.

If you think social selling is about blasting your templated sales message via one-to-one messaging or automation tools, you’d be wrong.

That approach only turns off your prospects and ruins your reputation.

When done right, however, social selling doesn’t involve any selling in the traditional sense. It’s meant to start conversations online and ultimately move them offline, where you can get to know your prospect better. And if they have a need for what you offer, you have a sales conversation with them.

That’s what social selling is at its core – relationship-building and offering help when your solution matches your prospect’s problem. It’s done via warm calls, not cold calls. In other words, it’s effective lead generation.

But before you jump into a misguided attempt at social selling and risk damaging your reputation, let me share with you three critical steps you need to follow to generate high-quality leads efficiently and consistently.

3-Steps to Effectively Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Step 1: Build a professional brand presence

If you want to be successful using LinkedIn for lead generation, you need a strong and compelling personal and professional brand that resonates with your ideal clients.

Yet, if you were to look at most people’s professional online presence, most importantly their LinkedIn profiles, it wouldn’t impress you. Sometimes, it may even turn you off.

If your profile doesn’t impress your ideal clients in three seconds or less, they will quickly move on.

Your personal profile on LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools you have because people connect with people, not companies, brands, or logos. It’s through your LinkedIn profile that you can connect to people, strike up conversations with them and build relationships.

What do your ideal clients find when they land on your profile? What’s their first impression of you? And does it make them want to consider doing business with you?

To succeed at using LinkedIn for lead generation, you must get your ideal clients to know, like and trust you. Ensuring several key sections of your LinkedIn profile are complete, professional-looking and client-centric is a necessary step in this process.

These key sections include your:

  • Headline
  • Profile and cover image
  • About section
  • Featured section
  • Experience section
  • Recommendations


I cannot stress enough the importance of your headline. It’s one of the very first things people see.

You have 120 characters, NOT words, to capture the attention of viewers to compel them to click Accept to your connection request or to view your entire profile.

LinkedIn profile intro card

Profile photo and cover image

Your profile photo and cover image are vital components to creating trust and establishing credibility.

Simply put, you need to display a professional profile picture. Profiles with profile photos get 40% more views.

In your profile photo, ensure you are smiling and looking straight at the camera, preferably against a neutral background.

Your cover photo, on the other hand, needs to convey a story. It needs to tell people something about who you are and what you do.

About section

Your About section needs to be compelling and client-centric.

Don’t drone on about how great you are. Talk about who your ideal clients are and the problems they face. Establish a clear link between their pain and desire and how you, with your skills and experience, can meet their needs.

Write your About section in the first-person voice. LinkedIn is a social network, so be social. Don’t write it as a professional bio, resume or CV unless you are looking for a job.

In your About section, you have 2600 characters to highlight your expertise and experience. It’s also essential to identify and speak directly to your target market.

Here are some questions you should strive to answer in your About section:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Whom do you do it for?
  • How do you do it?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Why should they listen to you?
  • What makes you credible?
  • Why should somebody hire you?

Featured section

To visually enhance your profile, include media in the Featured section. Including a video here will improve your chances of making a human connection, increasing the know, like and trust factor.

The Featured section could be used to highlight:

  • articles you’ve authored and published on LinkedIn
  • links to external websites, such as your company website, blog, portfolio, landing pages and lead magnets
  • media files, such as images, documents, presentations and videos.

If you don’t add content to the Featured section, this section will be hidden from people viewing your profile.

Experience section

Your current work Experience is also a key section and must be written in the firs- person voice. Use the 2000 characters you are given to speak to how you can best help your ideal clients with your products or services.

Recommendations section

Including social proof in your LinkedIn profile might make all the difference in your lead generation efforts.

I just finished speaking with a lead who bought my book LinkedIn Unlocked because of the good Amazon reviews and then decided to contact me.

We are conditioned to look for social proof when deciding whom to do business with. LinkedIn recommendations are a fantastic way to elevate your social proof.

LinkedIn recommendations are more powerful than written testimonials on your website because readers can authenticate the author of a recommendation by clicking on their profile. The more LinkedIn recommendations you have and the more detailed each one is, the quicker you’ll be able to establish trust with profile viewers.

Recommendations that speak to your expertise enhance your profile, increase your social proof and often lead to business.

Learn how to ask for LinkedIn recommendations here.

Step 2: Create a lead generation process on LinkedIn

The next vital step with LinkedIn social selling is to actively use LinkedIn for lead generation.

To generate leads efficiently and effectively, use my proprietary 5-step process – The LINK Method™ – to find, connect and start conversations with your ideal clients on LinkedIn.

When done right, this method will result in new clients. It allows you to build relationships with your connections, have offline conversations with them (which they’ll be excited about), and convert them into clients.

Keep in mind that while you may use template-like messages to get you going, the key to your LinkedIn social selling success is to personalize these messages for each prospect you send them to.

The more time you spend personalizing each communication you send on LinkedIn, the more effective and successful you’ll be.

Understand that it’s absolutely impossible to succeed at lead generation on LinkedIn without getting this part right.

Where exactly do you find ideas to personalize your messages?

You can start by researching the profile of the prospects you want to connect with.

In the activity section of their profiles, you can see the posts they’ve shared or engaged with as well as any articles they’ve shared.

You can also look at their company page, website and other social media channels to get additional insights.

To make your LinkedIn lead generation effective, you need to send a sequence of five types of messages.

Message 1: The LinkedIn connection request

Your connection request has a single goal: to get the recipient of your message to click Accept.

The best way to ensure your request is accepted is to tailor your request to the person you’re sending it to. Absolutely DO NOT use a template for this crucial step.

Personalize your connection request by finding something in common with your lead. Reference something in the profile, show interest in something they shared or compliment them or their company.

For example, maybe you went to the same university, or you both worked at the same company at one point.

Message 2: Establish dialogue

Send this message after they’ve accepted your connection request.

The purpose of this message is to begin a dialogue. You can do this by asking a simple question.

It is important that you ask them a non-invasive question about something in their profile, something they posted on LinkedIn or something about their company.

Message 3: Add value

Wait approximately a week to send this message. You don’t want to inundate your connections with messages from you.

How can you add value to your connection? Often, it can be through a highly-targeted and relevant content specific to their industry and top of mind problem. But don’t just send them a link to an article. Position the content to show why they would derive value from it and ask if they are interested in receiving it.

Once they say yes, send the content you’d mentioned.

Message 4: Move the conversation offline

Send this message no sooner than one week after Message 3 (could be later).

The goal of this message is to book a call. Nothing other than that.

And the only way you can do this effectively is by positioning that phone call or meeting as a benefit to them, not to you.

To do this, first make sure the prospect sees you understand them and their industry. You communicate that by identifying and speaking directly to them and stating their problem or the desired result. You will be most successful if you share a process, method, or insight they would find value in.

At this stage, you are trying to get your foot in the door, get on a phone call, build some rapport, get to know them and find out what you need to know to be able to pre-qualify them.

From there, you can move forward and schedule a longer call.

The secret to your success with this entire process is this:

You need to slow down the sale to speed it up!

The reason social selling doesn’t work for most people is they rush to send out their sales pitches. Many think automation will help them blast their product/service out to as many people as possible. Neither works!

LinkedIn lead generation services are popping up everywhere, making bold promises of vast amounts of new business. Sadly, the customers who use these services are disappointed with the results. Worse yet, their reputation and credibility are permanently shattered because if it.

Message 5: Nurture those prospects who didn’t move forward with you

Not everyone is going to be ready for the solution you offer right now. It’s important to nurture these prospects by checking in with them and adding value to them from time to time.

By doing this, you can often catch them at a time when the solution you offer has now become a priority for them.

Additional ReadingLinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs. Business Premium vs. Sales Navigator

Step 3: Establish authority and credibility, and stay top of mind

As I just mentioned, prospects will not always be ready to buy when you connect with them on LinkedIn.

As part of the lead nurturing process, you will want to stay in touch with your prospects where and when it makes sense through one-to-one messaging.

But it’s also important to show up in their LinkedIn newsfeeds from time to time. You do this by sharing interesting and valuable status updates. Educate your network with helpful content that also builds your authority and establishes your credibility while keeping you top of mind.

It’s also important that your posts on LinkedIn encourage engagement.

When people engage with your posts, LinkedIn is more likely to show your network more of your posts in the future.

One of the best ways to encourage engagement is to ask a question. But don’t overuse this strategy, and don’t ask pointless or silly questions to get engagement. It will only hurt your credibility.

Read this: Is Your LinkedIn Content Strategy Making You Look Desperate?

Remember that LinkedIn is a professional space.

Although I believe sharing content is important to stay top of mind, too many people rely too heavily on it. In fact, most “social selling experts “say the secret to social selling is sharing content… I disagree.

The secret to social selling, or lead generation or whatever term you are most comfortable with, is Step 2 in this article. Step 1 is a necessary step to get to Step 2. And this step of sharing content is helpful to stay top of mind and build authority within your network.

But don’t become reliant upon it. You cannot let your lead generation depend on things out of your control, such as LinkedIn’s algorithm, hoping your connections will scroll through their newsfeeds and see your content.

This hope-and-pray lead marketing is not a good strategy.

Level up your lead generation on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the premier social media platform to connect with decision-makers and professionals. It’s where people expect to have business conversations and often look for solutions to their business problems.

By becoming skilled at using LinkedIn for lead generation, you can find your ideal clients, build relationships with them, position yourself as an authority and generate new leads and sales for your business without spending a single dollar on advertising.

It seems like a worthwhile skill to develop, wouldn’t you agree? If so, please share this article so we can help people and businesses across the globe to fuel the economy!

To learn more about each of the three steps covered in this article, register for my free LinkedIn Leads video seriesIn it, I cover how to create a profile that stands out, convert connections into clients and build your authority through content. Get access to the video series here!

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