How to Use LinkedIn's Advanced People Search to Generate Leads

When you're ready to start looking for leads, jump right in with the LinkedIn Advanced People search, which allows you to search the database consisting of tens of millions of LinkedIn members based on the criteria you've established for the leads you want to generate.

To start a search, first make sure that People is selected in the Search drop-down list in the top of the page and then click the Advanced link next to the Search text box. Say you need accountants who work in the Financial Services industry. To start such a search, you would fill in the Title and Industry fields of Advanced People search, and then click Search.

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When you begin your search of the LinkedIn database, your network can help you identify your best leads (people two or three degrees away from you whom you can reach through a first-degree connection) if you make sure that first-degree connections and second-degree network members are checked. When you see your search results with those options checked, you first see which results are closely connected with you via your connections.

You can click each person's name to read his full LinkedIn profile, see how you're connected, and decide whether you have a potential lead. (This method gives you much more information than a simple Google search, which would provide only a LinkedIn member's public profile, instead of his full profile.)

After you identify your best leads, you can use LinkedIn to find out what connections you have in common: Simply click the Shared Connections link under the name for each search result.

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When you find a shared connection, that helps you approach a new person, because you can ask your colleague for an introduction or for more information.

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When doing general prospecting, surveying the market for that "perfect lead" or, at least, a lead in the right direction, keep these ideas in mind while filling in the appropriate Advanced Search fields in for each strategy:

  • Generalize your search. If you're looking for your ideal contacts independently of the company they work for, focus primarily on the Title and Industry fields to find your leads.

  • Narrow your search. Use the Keywords field to narrow your results list when you need to reach people within a certain niche of an industry or job.

  • Target specific people. Use either the Company or Keywords field, plus the Title field, to help you find specific employees in your target companies.

  • Help your product or service sell itself. Search for the customers of your customers to get those people excited about your product or service, so that they'll demand it from your customers! This strategy is also known as pull marketing.

  • Reach out through service professionals. Search for consultants who are hired by your potential customers by using the Title and Industry fields, or by choosing Consultants/Contractors from the Interested In drop-down list. Because LinkedIn might help you discover a shared connection or bond between you and these consultants, you can ask those consultants for help in reaching your potential customers.

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