You already know that LinkedIn has become a solid, go-to resource for researching companies and getting good background information on business execs.
But it’s also a prospecting tool, and a more powerful one than you might think. Here are six ways you can use LinkedIn to gain a competitive edge and leverage the time you spend prospecting:
1. Dig for decision makers
At most companies, the admin staff is trained to keep pesky sales people at bay. You can use the advanced search function in LinkedIn to identify both the decision maker with the sign-off authority and the influencers – the lower-level directors or managers most likely to benefit from your solution. That will make it much easier when you’re “warm calling” later.
2. Surprise opportunities
Try searching for companies in the “people” field. This will yield a list of everyone who works there – or has worked there in the past. You can then narrow your search by location or job description.
A related idea: Look where people have worked before their current position. You will find companies you did not know existed, and they can turn into customers.
3. Watch competitors
It’s always good to know what the competition is up to. You can “follow” companies by name, to see who they are connecting with.
Another angle is to check out specific reps who are chasing accounts on your turf. Watching what they are saying online or posting can give you an edge.
4. Track ‘endorsements’
LinkedIn recently added an “endorsement” feature, where people connected to a prospect will endorse them for various capabilities, ranging from financial modeling to publishing.
The number and type of endorsements can reveal a lot about the prospect, of course. But the real payoff can come from connecting with the endorsers.
5. Follow both prospects and customers
It’s a good idea to follow prospects and customers and track their LinkedIn activity. One good reason: You can spot situations where customers are connecting with attorneys, consultants or vendors – a pretty good bet that something’s in the wind.
Move quickly on this intel and you can get in ahead of the competition. When you participate in the planning stages you become an asset, develop a deeper relationship and land more business.
6. Join industry groups
There are thousands of industry groups on LinkedIn, which can yield fertile ground when cultivated with care.
Joining groups that your target prospects belong to will automatically give you a large audience of searchable contacts, and potential new business to develop.
But be careful how you go about it.
When you participate in discussions, make sure what you say adds value. Blatant sales efforts can get you booted. And simply posting links to your own website will be seen as self-serving.
Source – [Soshable]