10 Tips for Advanced LinkedIn Lead Generation - dummies

10 Tips for Advanced LinkedIn Lead Generation

By Perry van Beek

Once you’ve mastered the basics of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, check out these ten advanced lead-generation tips to help you take your social selling to the next level.

Quantity versus quality with LinkedIn leads

Those in sales all begin their sales careers with the same immediate goal: More! More! More! More contacts! More cold calls! More email addresses and phone numbers!

It’s the same with Sales Navigator. When you first log in, Sales Navigator presents you with a number of suggested accounts to follow, and you can save as many as you’d like. While this is a good way to build up your initial contact list, it’s not a sustainable methodology. After all, social selling is all about engaging with prospects. It’s about getting to know them and their wants, needs, and pain points. It’s about the one-on-one interactions with them that leaves them feeling that you actually care about helping, as opposed to just earning a commission.

That’s why social-selling professionals should choose quality leads and interactions over quantity. If you’re doing your job, your sales numbers will grow organically. Take care of the few customers you have and you’ll never have to network again, because those customers will be glad to recommend you to other people in their networks.

Save connections as leads using LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Your LinkedIn connections are individuals who are already familiar with you and your business. Chances are, you don’t have to win them over. If you’re presenting yourself and your business in a professional and engaging manner, you’ve already overcome one of the main (and major) hurdles of sales: gaining the customer’s trust.

So, go ahead and import your connections from LinkedIn into your Sales Navigator account. Luckily, the program makes this easy for you. Just follow these steps:

  1. From your Sales Navigator home page, hover your mouse pointer over the Lists link in the main navigation menu bar at the top of your screen and select My Network from the drop-down menu.

    You’re taken to the My Network home page. This page lists your first-, second-, and third-degree connections (“and everyone else”), as well as members of the Groups you belong to. Basically, your entire social network.

    My Network home page LinkedIn
    The My Network home page.
  2. Scroll down to the Relationships section in the filtering box on the left side of the screen and click the 1st Connections link.

    This filters out all LinkedIn members except for those you are direct (first-degree) connections with.

  3. Apply any other filters you feel are appropriate.

    For example, you may want to isolate those connections who work for a certain company, or only those who are in the C-suite.

  4. Scroll through your results and click the Save as Lead button for any connections you want to follow in Sales Navigator.

    Once you save them, you have the option to reach out directly by messaging them to get the conversation started!

It’s good practice to follow the accounts of your own business as well as those of competitors. The same thing goes for making leads of employees of said competitors and colleagues. It doesn’t hurt to keep an ear to the ground to stay up to date on what’s going on in your professional world.

Increase response rates and engagement with Your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a social network, first and foremost. Sure, it’s a professional networking one, but it’s still one built on the foundation of making social connections. That being said, the best way to increase response rates and engagement with your profile is by — yep, you guessed it — responding and engaging with other users. You can do this by giving their updates a thumbs up and, even better, leaving genuine comments and/or questions based on something they posted.

The keyword there is genuine. Make sure the comment is detailed and pertinent to the update. Don’t just leave a generic comment such as, “Great post!” Sure, you’re commenting, but it’s almost better that you didn’t because it comes across as impersonal and canned. A better comment would be, “Thanks for this post, Dave. It’s very timely as I’ve just encountered this issue in my own company. It gave me a lot of insight.” It’s comments such as that that will catch Dave’s attention and prompt him to respond in some way (if he, too, practices good social-networking etiquette). Once the ice is broken, Dave is more likely to be open to interacting with you in the future, including following and commenting on your updates. Social selling is very much quid pro quo.

Do not start selling to connections the minute they acknowledge you or one of your posts. It’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll turn them off and they’ll run for the hills.

Best practices for requesting a LinkedIn introduction

Social networking in general is about making connections. While the other popular social networks are for personal use, LinkedIn is used to make professional connections.

It’s not unheard of for people to request introductions to people in their extended network. In fact, it’s expected. So much, in fact, that Sales Navigator has a built-in tool that facilitates the connecting of people through co-workers and colleagues — TeamLink.

Here are some best practices for requesting introductions on LinkedIn:

  • Make sure you know the person you’re requesting an introduction from personally. There’s nothing worse than getting hit up for an introduction to a colleague by some guy you spoke with briefly at a conference a year ago. He’s asking you to vouch for him to your colleague. There’s a lot on the line for the person making the introduction. Don’t put anyone in an awkward position by requesting an introduction from someone you barely know.
  • For best results, ask for an introduction from someone you know who is in a more senior position. When someone in a higher position professionally than you facilitates an introduction, it looks good for your level of professionalism as well as your quality of work. If this more senior person trusts you, chances are you’re a trustworthy person, and that is a great message you want communicated.
  • Try to find a common ground with the person you’re requesting an introduction to and share that with the connector. Sure, your connection can talk you up professionally, but to be able to point out that you both went to the same university (at the same time!) is worth its weight in gold. It could be any similarities: you belong to the same LinkedIn Groups or professional associations, or even something like you both worked at small telecommunications companies at one point in your careers.
  • Don’t ask the same person for introductions. Sure, this person may know a lot of people and may be very well-respected in the industry, but if you’re constantly hitting this connection up for introductions, he or she is going to start thinking that it’s the only reason you wanted to connect in the first place.
  • Create a template for the connector to use. Make it clear that your connection doesn’t have to use the template, of course, but chances are he or she will appreciate that you took a lot of the effort out of writing up the message. Your connection may also be grateful that you were able to really personalize the message with details about yourself that the connector may not know. It makes the introduction seem more genuine.
  • Make it easy for the potential connector to decline. No one wants to be turned down, of course. And it’s just as awkward for the person doing the turning down. Let your connection know that regardless of whether he or she is able to fulfill your request, you are grateful that he or she took time to consider it.

Conversation starters on LinkedIn

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sales professional who actually enjoys cold-calling. (If you happen to be one of those unicorns, please share your secrets for loving it!) Find common ground with customers as people generally want to buy from people they like. Having some fodder to start a conversation can help you find this commonality and build a rapport more quickly.

Here are a few LinkedIn conversations starters:

  • “What’s keeping you busy lately?” This is a great one because it opens up the possibility to get both personal and professional information about the person. A variation of this (if it’s directly on LinkedIn) is, “I’ve noticed that quite a few of your updates lately have been about <fill in the blank.> This seems like something you’re passionate about. Where did this interest begin?”
  • “I noticed that you’re <writing about, listening to> podcasts, what are some of your favorites?” Like with the previous suggestion, this lets the person know you’ve taken the time to notice an interest and care enough to ask about it. When a customer realizes you do truly care, the customer is more likely to trust you when you say that you can help solve a problem he or she may be having.
  • “What’s something in your industry you consider underrated?” Many users have discovered a helpful or engaging tool or an event speaker that others haven’t taken notice of yet. Try to find out if this person has made such a discovery as well. In addition to learning about your prospect, you’ll also learn some valuable information about the prospect’s industry.

Tailor your conversation starters to where you’re having the conversation. For example, having a conversation over InMail messages lends itself to different starters than conversations held face to face at an industry conference or social event.

Manage your Sales Navigator InMail messages

Once you build your network and leads list, your Sales Navigator InMail inbox is likely to get quite full. And the fact that it’s probably one of a number of email inboxes that is demanding your attention just adds to the chance that a message may fall by the wayside. There’s nothing worse than missing out on a lead because your Sales Navigator inbox hasn’t been kept organized.

Here are some tips to help you manage your InMail messages:

  • Archive messages you’ve read and acted upon. There is no use in keeping them in your inbox if there’s nothing left to do with them.
  • Mark as “unread” messages you’ve opened but still have to reply to or otherwise act upon. Keeping them unread will remind you that they need to be revisited.
  • Keep an eye on the Pending tab. The center tab of your inbox is for InMails that have yet to receive a response. Be sure to “keep tabs” (see what I did there?) on potential leads that you have reached out to so you can follow up in the future if appropriate.
  • If an InMail message receives a response and is thereby moved to your main inbox, take advantage of the Save as Lead button on the right side of the page. A conversation has started! Don’t forget to nurture the lead and keep it going.
  • Use the search box. You’re a busy sales professional, and between your inbox, sent, pending, and archived messages, there are a lot of communications floating around. Use the search box at the top of the inbox to make quick work of finding the message or messages you need.

LinkedIn InMail do’s and don’ts

InMail messages can be an invaluable sales tool provided you don’t abuse the privilege of being able to send messages to anyone on LinkedIn, regardless of your degree of connection. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to ensure that you’re InMailing at the top of your game:

  • DO research the recipient well to find common ground, such as similar groups, shared connections, or shared alma maters.
  • DO grab the recipient’s attention with an eye-catching subject line. Make the person want to open up your message, but be careful not to sound, too spammy.
  • DO keep it brief. No one is going to read a wordy message from a stranger. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Consider bullet points or at least paragraph breaks to make the text easier to consume.
  • DON’T hound the recipient if he or she doesn’t respond. Best-case scenario is that people get busy and things fall through the cracks. The worst-case scenario is that they’re just not interested. Think carefully about reaching out again.
  • DON’T try to sell them something. Make this message about them, not about you and how great your product or service is.
  • DO include a call to action. Let the recipient know the next steps, whether it is downloading a tip sheet you’re offering or even offering a connection request. Don’t leave dead air.

Add and save your LinkedIn InMail default signature

Another great feature of InMail is the ability to add a default signature to it, just like you can do in your regular email client. This ensures that your name, title, and other contact information is front and center in the InMail message, omitting the need for the message recipient to check out your profile in order to get in touch.

While you want to make sure you have enough information in your email signature so that the message recipient can contact you, you want to be careful that you don’t add information just to use up every one of the 150 characters you are allotted. Make sure what you’re including is relevant.

To set your signature in InMail, follow these steps:

  1. From your Sales Navigator home page, click the inbox icon in the main navigation menu bar at the top of your screen. Your inbox home page opens.

    The default view is of your unarchived messages with the newest ones on top.

  2. Click the Compose Message icon that appears to the right of the inbox search bar.

    It looks like a piece of paper with a pencil.

  3. Start typing the name of the person you’re sending a message to.

    LinkedIn automatically starts suggesting matches. Select the one you want from the drop-down menu.

  4. Compose your message in the box that says, “Click here to type your message.”
    LinkedIn InMail
    Compose your message here.

    Make sure you clearly identify yourself and the reason you are writing. Remember: Don’t try to sell the recipient anything right away!

  5. Hover your mouse pointer over your name that is in bold print at the bottom of the message and click the pencil icon that appears.

    A box opens in which you can add a signature. You have a total of 150 characters to work with when creating your signature. Use them wisely!

  6. Click the Send button when you’re finished. Now sit back and wait for a reply!

Add attachments to your LinkedIn InMail messages

Sales Navigator gives you the option of adding attachments to the InMail messages you send out, and you should take advantage of that opportunity as much as you can. Chances are, your company has some sales and marketing materials that it gives out to people at trade shows, conferences, and meetings with outside stakeholders. Why not include one or two of those documents in an InMail message you’re sending to a prospect? It’s easy to do so, just follow these steps:

  1. From your Sales Navigator home page, click the inbox icon in the main navigation bar at the top of your screen.

    Your inbox home page opens. The default view is of your unarchived messages with the newest on top.

  2. Click the Compose Message icon that appears to the right of the inbox search bar.

    It looks like a piece of paper with a pencil.

  3. Start typing the name of the person you’re sending a message to.

    LinkedIn automatically starts suggesting matches. Select the one you want from the drop-down menu.

  4. Compose your message in the box that says, “Click here to type your message.”

    Make sure you include information about the attachment you are including.

  5. Click the paper clip icon that appears to the left of the Send button at the bottom of the message box.

    Search for and double-click the file you want to attach in the window that appears. The file loads onto the bottom of the message.

    LinkedIn Sales Navigator attachment
    Attaching a file to a Sales Navigator message.
  6. Click the Send button when you’re finished. Your message (and attachment) is on its way to the recipient!

It’s important the attachment be both relevant but not necessarily the “main event.” In other words, try not to make it the main reason you’re writing. Instead, send it as supporting material to reinforce the subject you’re writing about. Think of it this way. Could you send the message without the attachment, but including the attachment makes the message all the better? If the answer to that question is yes, by all means include it.

That’s not to say that you should be loading each InMail message up with every piece of documentation you think would be of interest to the recipient. Keep it to one or two attachments at a maximum, and make sure they’re more informational than salesy.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Gmail

If you use Gmail for your email client, Sales Navigator has a plug-in that integrates with Gmail to make your Sales Navigator experience even richer. Sales Navigator for Gmail shows you LinkedIn profile data for your contacts, leads, and prospective leads directly in Gmail. You can leverage that knowledge when you message them as well as save leads to Sales Navigator directly in your Gmail inbox.

Get the plugin. From this webpage, click the “Add to Gmail” button that appears in the middle of the page. The Google Chrome web Store opens. Click the +Add to Chrome button that appears in the following screen. Once the extension is added, you will have a small Sales Navigator icon in the top right of your Chrome browser window.

Here’s how it works: When you start to compose an InMail message to someone, that person’s public LinkedIn profile details such as name, photo, current location, place of employment, and degree of connection becomes visible. If you’re already first-degree connections with this person, you see additional information such as his or her phone number or website (if it is included on his or her profile).