You can't beat LinkedIn for qualified lead generation. LinkedIn's profiles are considerably richer than what you get on Twitter, and through the magic of primary and secondary connections you can often find many paths to the people you want to reach. Here are some useful features you should know about.
Let's say you’re trying to contact the CIO at Boeing. A quick Google search turns up the name of Kim Hammonds, who was appointed early last year. Search for Kim on LinkedIn and you get a detailed profile, including her last eight years of work history, education, and recommendations. There's even a link to a personal website.
Kim’s LinkedIn profile itself can be a gold mine of lead opportunities. She has 11 recommendations from colleagues, and LinkedIn conveniently tells you if any of these people are connected to you directly or through a common connection. Since each person recommending Kim presumably knows her well, you can work through that list to see if any of them are good candidates to arrange an introduction.
Kim has also recommended four colleagues, and we can also look up their profiles to see if we have any connections in common.
Benefits with friends
There are also ways to find people who work with Kim today or have worked with her in the past. Go to LinkedIn advanced people search and search for “IT” in the title, “Boeing” in the company name, and specify company as “Current.” My search turned up nearly 800 current employees of the IT organization at Boeing. We can narrow that result set, however, by specifying only members who are within 50 miles of Chicago, which is where Kim's profile tells us she is located.
That gives us 15 results, and some may be connected to you. By clicking through to their profiles we can see if they have worked on projects with Kim or if they share a common past employer (which might indicate they know each other).
These tactics work for prospecting at Kim’s current company, but you can apply the same tools to searching past employers as well. For example, Kim has seven recommendations from colleagues at Ford Motor Company, and LinkedIn obligingly tells us if we are connected to any of them.
Also, don't forget those bonds we forge in college. Kim attended undergraduate and graduate schools in Michigan, and clicking on either of those institutions takes us to the fabulous LinkedIn Alumni service, where we can find people we know who attended the same school. You can't search by graduation year, but life isn't perfect.
The group trick
Finally, let's say we want to connect directly to a prospect in order to gain access to a coveted email address and/or phone number. LinkedIn doesn’t permit members to connect to others they don't know, but there's a sweet little workaround you can use: common group membership.
Kim doesn’t belong to any LinkedIn groups, but many CIOs do. Let's take the example of Karenann Terrell, CIO at Walmart. She belongs to no less than 12 LinkedIn groups. If we join any one of those groups we can send her a connection request and possibly get direct access. Simply request a connection and specify the group you both belong to. There is no guarantee she will accept your request -- and if she rejects it you'll have more trouble getting connected in the future -- but who knows? Stranger things have happened.
If you want to banter with friends, you can't beat Facebook, but if you want to find and qualify the people who can deliver business, LinkedIn is the place to be.
What works for you? Share your best LinkedIn lead gen tactic in the comments area.
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