There’s a potential goldmine on LinkedIn, just waiting for you to tap into its ability to locate and connect with your ideal clients. This goldmine has just become more even useful as LinkedIn has updated and improved its free search feature, making it easier to find prospects using the LinkedIn Advanced Search function.
So just what makes LinkedIn such a goldmine for you to find and connect with your potential prospects?
Consider that at the time of writing this that LinkedIn has over half a billion global members in 200 countries. That is a very large pool for you to search for potential prospects (this is where the updated Advanced Search comes in handy).
Professionals are not just coming to LinkedIn in huge numbers but they’re also engaging with a huge purpose. They’re coming specifically to connect to networks, brands and opportunities by engaging with high-quality content across the LinkedIn platform. This is a very different mindset and intent from other social media platforms. The world’s professionals come to LinkedIn for:
- Industry news
- Expert advice
- Career training
- Peer insights and recommendations
- Content published by LinkedIn’s Influencers
So, as well as having a very large pool of potential prospects, it is also a pool of highly educated, motivated business people looking to overcome challenges and find ways to make themselves and their business more successful.
There is a very good chance that some of these people will be looking for someone who does what you do.
However, you don’t want to wait around for someone to find you. Instead you can be proactive with your prospecting and use LinkedIn’s powerful advanced search to find those who could be your ideal clients.
LinkedIn has recently made some changes to their search filters and where they can be found so first I want to cover that.
Change of Location for LinkedIn Advanced Search Filters
With this latest round of changes, you’ll notice that the LinkedIn advanced search filters on both the desktop and mobile are now at the top of the screen, with each option available via a drop-down menu. While you many notice that it does require a few more taps to drill down the options on the mobile app, you are still able to narrow down your potential prospect list using the available filters.
To further streamline the user’s search experience, LinkedIn has moved the advance search filters to the top of the search results page. In addition, the most frequently used filters – such as location, connection degree, and current companies – are displayed by default to help you narrow your search more efficiently.
There are still a great many people who are not using LinkedIn at all much less to its full potential.
– Melonie Dodaro
If you want to see all of the search filters available, you can now do so by clicking on the “All Filters” link – on the desktop model – which allows you to filter results by industry, past companies, schools and more. The “All Filters” option also allows you to see all the advance search options available on one screen. On the mobile app, clicking on one filter opens up a menu of other available advance filters options.
LinkedIn Search Results Better Defined
LinkedIn has also changed the layout for the advanced search by highlighting relevant matches from different categories. This helps you build a database of your best prospects which then leads to the next step of first connecting and then building a relationship with them through strategic personalized messages.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone that comes up in your initial search results will be a great fit, but as you narrow them down, you’ll be on the right path.
Step one of the process is simply to type in the title of the person you’d like to target by accessing the Search Bar on the homepage of your LinkedIn account. For example, if you were looking for “Marketing Manager” you would type that in and also select “People.” You could then target further and filter by location, connections, current companies or by using the “All Filters” which allows you to select even more search filters.
There are plenty of filters to choose from even within a free LinkedIn account, including:
- Connections (1st, 2nd, 3rd) – if you are looking for new prospects you will search 2nd & 3rd connections
- First Name, Last Name,
- Current Companies (by name)
- Past Companies (by name)
- And even Non-profit interests
Simply apply the search filters that make sense for you based on your prospect profile and when you’re ready to search, just hit the blue “APPLY” button at the top of the page to apply your search filters. The result will be a scaled-down list of prospects you can target based on the criteria you’ve selected.
There are some limitations however with a free LinkedIn membership, including the following restrictions:
- A limited number of saved searches per month. You are limited to three saved searches with a free account (Sales Navigator provides 15). Saved searches are a fantastic way to have LinkedIn send you leads each week based on the search parameters you’ve already set up.
- A limited amount of search filters. When searching for people and/or prospects, the filters provided in the free account are limited. For instance, in the free account, you cannot search for prospects based on company size.
- A limited number of searches before you hit LinkedIn’s Commercial Use Limit. The free account limits the profiles of potential new connections you are allowed to view each month. There isn’t a set number of profiles that LinkedIn publishes, but once you hit the Commercial Use Limit for the month, they won’t allow you to view any new profiles.
- Cannot send InMails. You are limited to contacting prospects who connect with you whereas with InMails you can send direct messages to people you are not already connected with.
Sales Navigator Advanced Search Functionality
There are many additional search filters available those who upgrade to the paid “Sales Navigator” account.
Among some of the additional advanced filters included in a Sales Navigator account you will find:
- Company Size – Search for everything from small business owners to large multinational corporations, with from one to 10 employees to more than 10,000.
- Years of Experience – Search by the level of experience someone has.
- Function – Search by what function or role your prospect plays in their job: whether it’s administrative, business development, or marketing.
- Seniority Level – Search seniority levels from C-suite, VP, Director, Manager all the way down to an unpaid intern.
- Groups – Search for prospects based on what specific LinkedIn groups they are a member of. With this filter, you can view each member of a specific group.
- Interested In – Search for prospects that are interested in new opportunities, or looking for contractors, etc.…
Sales Navigator adds more power to your prospecting ability with highly targeted search filters. Sales Navigator is designed to help you find and connect with the right people and companies you want to do business with. Along with the expanded search filters, Sales Navigator also offers:
- Extended Commercial Use Limit – If you are building a database of new prospects, you won’t be restricted by the number of profiles you can view per month.
- 20 InMail Messages (per month) – These allow you to message your best prospects whether or not they are connected with you.
- Lead Recommendations – Based on the types of prospects you are targeting, LinkedIn will recommend other prospects that are similar to your initial targets. This saves you time by delivering targeted prospects right to you.
- Real-time Insights (on existing accounts and leads) – Get notified immediately when your potential prospects or leads have news, company updates, or other information that will help you build a stronger relationship with them. These updates provide you with tremendous insights and a natural way to strike up a conversation.
Upgrading to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator might be right for you if you want to tap into the social selling potential on LinkedIn and build a targeted network full of potential prospects.
It’s also ideal if you want to avoid being hit with the “commercial use limit” each month. Finally, if your searches aren’t as targeted as you’d like, you would benefit from the additional filters by upgrading your LinkedIn account.
NOTE: I do not in any way financially benefit from this advice, it is only meant to serve you in making the right decision for you and your business.
Sales Prospecting on LinkedIn
Now that you know how to find people on LinkedIn, what’s next? The key is to start with a personalized connection request and begin the relationship building process.
Effective social selling is all about building relationships, where you can move your connections (potential prospects) to offline conversations. In the B2B sales world, it’s offline where you convert a prospect into a client. The LINK Method™, my proprietary system (detailed in my book LinkedIn Unlocked) is a step by step process of moving online connections to offline conversations through a process of building credibility, trust and relationships.
The LINK Method™, a process to convert online connections to offline sales conversations begins with building relationships that are based on trust.
– Melonie Dodaro
There are five crucial steps involved in turning LinkedIn into a highly predictable lead generator for you. The LINK Method™ consists of the highest leveraging activities you can do on LinkedIn to generate new prospects and clients and includes these five steps.
- Find Prospect
- Make First Contact
- Engage Prospect
- Build Relationship
- Move Conversation Offline
Most of the B2B individuals and companies I work with have the same goal, to book offline conversations with prospects. It’s during an offline conversation that you are able to get to know your prospect and their specific problems, and when appropriate, offer your solution. Too many people start to pitch a new connection online right away and that rarely works. It’s offline you convert a prospect into a client.
Leverage Trigger Events to Mine Your LinkedIn Network
LinkedIn will send you notifications via email advising you on a variety of potential trigger events. Trigger events are some event or action that occurs which can result in a natural opportunity for you to engage in conversation with a potential prospect. For example, you can be notified about:
- Activity in your network: These include birthdays, job changes, work anniversaries, updates to their profile and status updates. Notifications of these events provide an excellent opportunity to start a conversation and continue to build a relationship.
- Activity that involves you: This includes posts/conversations that mention you, responses to your activity (likes, comments, shares), skill endorsements, who viewed your profile and your search appearances.
- News and articles: When your connections (or their company) have been mentioned in the news, and when they share LinkedIn Publisher articles.
- Updates from your groups: Approval to join a group, group discussions that mention you, group invitations and responses to your group posts.
When you receive these types of notifications, review them and look for opportunities to engage with any of the prospects that have been identified. As you build your network, there will be a goldmine of opportunities waiting for you, but you must be proactive and seize them in real time as they happen.
Your Network = Your Net Worth
Your network also provides a tremendous opportunity for you to leverage warm introductions and referrals with those that know and trust you enough to introduce you. Why?
Buyers are five times more likely to engage with you via a mutual connection (warm referral) and 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral.
When asking for an introduction, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Unfortunately, most people approach this incredibly valuable process the wrong way, producing either no results or in some cases, hurting their existing relationship. Remember, you are asking the other person for a favor, so regardless of the outcome be appreciative and respectful.
To increase your success when requesting an introduction, follow these best practices:
- Build rapport
- Share why you are asking for the introduction
- Make it easy for them
- Give them permission to easily say no
The content of messages you send on LinkedIn (whether they are to a prospect you want to build a relationship with, someone you’d like to introduce you, or a possible strategic partner), will determine your success with generating new clients and opportunities.
It’s imperative that you take the time to personalize the messages you send. I talk about this in specific detail in my new book LinkedIn Unlocked and provide examples of the messages that work.
Next Steps to Drive Sales Through LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a goldmine waiting to be tapped to attract more clients and build your business. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s advanced search and use The LINK Method™ to do it successfully. Shortcuts don’t work! Automation doesn’t work. What does work is building real relationships that are based on trust.
If you would like to learn more about how to deploy a successful social selling system on LinkedIn to drive more sales, check out my new book LinkedIn Unlocked, available on Amazon.