Now that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and you’re building your network, it’s time to manage an active, effective profile.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how your profile got updated, check out the first portion of our LinkedIn guide, where we detail how to set up your profile, build your network, ask for recommendations and more.
But, if you’re ready to continue towards LinkedIn success, it’s time to learn how you can use the platform to build your network.
Once your network is built, you’re able to effectively use your connections to garner referrals both within a company you already have a contact at and leveraging contacts from their wider network.
Think back on the last time you asked for a referral from someone. While you may have had minimal success asking for a blanket recommendation such as, “Do you know any other people who need a CRM?” you likely have a higher success rate with a specific introduction request, for example, “Would you be able to make an introduction for me with jruthstein from Simple Machines Marketing? I think our company could really help her with our new CRM features.”
The same concept applies to LinkedIn. By asking for specific introductions, you can pinpoint your targets faster, take the guesswork off your colleague or friend’s plate and ultimately grow your network in a faster, more targeted way.
But how are you supposed to know who to request introductions to? With LinkedIn, it’s easy to find out.
Searching via companies
When looking for new contacts from your current network, one option is to search for the name of the company you’ve identified as a highly qualified lead and go to their LinkedIn page. For example, let’s say I’ve identified Nike as a highly qualified lead and I’m looking for an introduction to someone who works there.
To begin, I’d go to Nike’s company LinkedIn page and look for the “See all XXX employees on LinkedIn button”.
Once you’ve clicked this link, you’ll be taken to a page that lists everyone who works at, or formerly worked at, the company. This is where you can begin noting possible referrals.
On this page, pictured below, you’ll want to look for LinkedIn members who say “2nd” next to their name. This means that someone you’re already connected with is a mutual connection and can make an introduction.
As you review your 2nd degree connections, here are some things to look for:
Degree of connection: Only ask for introductions to 2nd degree connections.
Who can make the introduction: Below their job title, second degree connections have a person icon and show your shared connections. Make sure this is someone you have a good working relationship with and would provide value by making an introduction.
Job title: Ensure that the person’s job title is of value to you. For example, a marketing person may not be a valuable connection as they won’t be making purchasing decisions, but a purchasing manager might be a great connection.
Current Role: Even though you’re searching by employees at a specific company, a former employee may come up in your results. Make sure to double check that they’re a current employee.
Once you’ve vetted all of the connections through the criteria above, make a list of who you’d like to get an introduction to and who from your current network is able to provide that introduction.
Now, it’s time to start asking for those intros. To do this, reach out to the mutual connection and ask if they’re able to connect you.
Depending on your relationship with the mutual connection, you may opt for either a phone call, LinkedIn message or email to request the introduction. No matter which method you use, make sure to let them know you saw their connection on LinkedIn, the specific person you’re looking for an introduction to and why you believe it would be a beneficial introduction.
Once you’ve gotten the introduction, take time to learn more about your new connection’s role, share the value you can provide and see if they have any upcoming projects that might necessitate your support.
Searching through your network
You can also look for connections from people you already know. For example, if you have a great working relationship with Charlie Nadler and you’re already connected on LinkedIn, you can go to his connections and see if there are any good introductions he can make.
First, begin by searching “Charlie Nadler” (or the person’s name) in your search bar in the top left corner.
Once you’re on their profile, click on the “XXX connections” button below their headline.
After you click this button, you’ll be taken to a page similar to the employee view from a company. It will automatically be filtered to show only 1st and 2nd degree connections.
I recommend filtering this to only show 2nd degree connections, which can easily be done by clicking the blue “connections” box.
From there, you can search for potential referrals. If you’re looking for introductions in a specific industry, holding a certain job title or within a geographic boundary, you can add additional filters to assist in your search. Simply click “All Filters” to see filtering options.
Then, follow the same steps of creating your introduction request list and contacting Charlie (or your potential referrer) to ask for introductions to the contacts you’ve identified.
If you’ve used LinkedIn recently, there’s a good chance you’ve received a notification to take advantage of a free month of LinkedIn Premium. And, if you’re committed to using the platform as a lead generation tool, it’s worth trying out.
LinkedIn Premium supports two key functions: Premium Career and Premium Business. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on LinkedIn Premium Business.
The benefits of LinkedIn Premium Business
With a Premium Business account you have access to additional features such as seeing
everyone who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days, sending 15 InMail messages per month (instead of three with a free account), unlimited searches in your extended network and more detailed company data. While this may not sound like it’s worth $59.99 per month, if you’re using LinkedIn as a serious Lead Generation tool it could be well worth the cost.
Why it’s beneficial
The impact of Premium Business depends on how well you take advantage of the additional features. If used correctly, it can become a huge lead source.
Additional InMail: For anyone you aren’t connected to or share a group with, you have to send an InMail message. With a free account, you only get three InMail per month, meaning you can only “cold direct message” three accounts per month. If you foresee LinkedIn as becoming a way to connect with potential targets and 3rd degree connections, having the 15 InMail per month that a Premium Business account provides is a huge advantage.
Business Insights: With a premium account you gain access to additional insights such as the company’s growth and functional trends. This allows you to do more detailed research on a company before connecting with a lead there or can help determine if a company isn’t a lead worth pursuing.
Who’s viewed your profile: Premium Business allows you to see everyone who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days and how they found you. If you start seeing someone looking at your profile frequently, this can give you insight into their potential to becoming a lead and allows you to see if you have any mutual connections who can make an introduction. If you don’t have a mutual connection but their profile indicates they might be a good lead, you can use one of your 15 InMail to reach out.
Unlimited people browsing: With Premium Business you have access to unlimited profiles views from search results and suggested profiles (up to a 3rd degree connection), making it easier for you to uncover potential leads and referrals. With a free account, they cap your usage of people searching, so if you plan to use the feature frequently, I recommend upgrading.
If the features in Premium Business sound exciting and you want to dig into your data even more, consider a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account. With this account, you can target buyer, gain more insights, tracks leads, engage with more prospects and utilize CRM integrations.
For more information on Sales Navigator, try out LinkedIn’s product tour.
One thing to note: if you sign up for the free trial of LinkedIn Premium or LinkedIn Sales Navigator you will automatically be billed for the upgrade when your trial runs out. If you decide it’s not worth the cost for you, don’t forget to cancel before you’re charged.
Make the Most of Your LinkedIn
Now that you understand how to utilize your network, become a thought leader to add value and know about your options for upgrading your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to start using LinkedIn to your advantage!
But where to begin? I recommend blocked 15 – 30 minutes on your calendar one or two days a week to focus on using the platform to look for potential leads.
For an easy reminder of how to find potential referrals, download our LinkedIn Referral Guide. It shares all the steps to ensure you’re finding potential introductions.