LinkedIn has made cold calling a thing of the past for many of us – at least it should have. Unfortunately I suspect many people build their connections and then… well, nothing. LinkedIn is about as useful as a chocolate teapot if you only connect with people you already know – OK, maybe not a chocolate teapot, but certainly one with a dribbly spout. There are other teapots out there that do the job better if you just want to chat to people you know!
The search functions on LinkedIn are great for pinpointing the kind of people you want to do business with. Here’s a how to for you…
1. First you need to log in – see, not so hard, is it?
2. Go to the search bar and type in the search you want. Maybe you represent a packaging company and you want to make contact with company buyers. So you type in buyer and hit enter.
3. On the next page, down the left hand side you’ll see a whole host of search criteria designed to narrow your search. Some of this is only accessible if you pay, but the basic version is certainly good enough. I would suggest you refine your search to 2nd connections, as you want to meet people that you don’t yet know. Other refinements are down to what makes sense for your business – location and industry I would suggest makes sense for our sales rep.
4. For me, this search comes up with 803 results. Now I can work my way through and decide who is my best match, in terms of their role, and our products. When I’ve found someone who I’d like to talk to I can click on our shared connection and request an introduction. I could do that, or I could make contact with our shared connection to find out all I can about my potential client – are they the decision maker, are they on the lookout for a new supplier, what interests do they have… the usual stuff, and of course, are they willing to introduce me. This then makes it more of a referral instead of a shot in the dark.
It’s this last part that turns a list of names into a rich source of potential clients, information and referrals. Much nicer than driving to an industrial estate and knocking on everyone’s door in the rain, to see if they buy packaging, yes, I was guilty of that many moons ago. I’ve also taken my local phone book, picked a page at random and started a (fruitless) exercise of offering financial services to whoever answered the phone. I guess these ways still work, but Linked In offers a much better way; far more in keeping with the digital age we live in, faster, sleeker and more efficient – go on, give it a go.