When it was founded in 2002, LinkedIn’s primary function was professional social networking. Today, the company – which has more than 660 million active members – provides more functionalities than just networking and job-seeking. It’s a platform for recruiting, personal branding, and the topic of this blog post: sales prospecting.

For a sales professional, prospecting is likely one of your most important activities. And it’s one that has serious influence in the short- and long-term. But technology has rendered many traditional prospecting methods less efficient and sometimes less ineffective. To be successful (and not waste your time), you need to be open to strategies that will maximize your efforts – LinkedIn is one of them.

How to Prospect on LinkedIn:

1. Create Search Strings to Find Prospects

Develop a Boolean search string that best matches the criteria of your targeted market. The elements to the search string are:

OR – Marketing OR Sales – This combination will perform an all encompassing search that includes all LinkedIn profiles that have the keywords Marketing or Sales.

AND – Marketing AND Sales – Is much more limiting as the profile must include both terms marketing and sales.

NOT – Marketing NOT Sales – Will deliver a search of profiles that include the word marketing and not the word sales.

2. Engage with Insights

Engage with those people whose posts show up in your home newsfeed, and visit some of your targeted LinkedIn groups to engage in discussions that are relevant to you, your clients and your prospects. Show your knowledge and share insights. Have a new prospect? Follow them, see what they post and make a comment. (Always make sure you’re adding value – don’t just comment for the sake of commenting!) This is a great strategy for getting back on a prospect’s radar when they’ve gone dark.

3. Create Original Content

Nothing highlights you as a thought leader better than creating excellent content, with your own unique perspective. Don’t be afraid to ‘put yourself out there’. If you were simply saying the same thing as everyone else, why even bother? This is your time to get readers saying ‘Hmmm.’ Don’t be controversial (ie no politics!) but share your thoughts on trends, the future of your industry or anything else your audience may find interesting!

4. Share Other People’s Content

When a connection posts a great article, share it and be sure to tag them to credit them with the post. Not only is this respectful to the writer, your post will now show up in their feed, which exposes you to a wider audience. You can generate some great conversations on your feed if you ask for readers’ feedback – even if they disagree with what’s written, the more conversation, the more exposure!

Prospecting doesn’t need to be more difficult than it already is. Embrace LinkedIn for access to millions of businesspeople. You never know who could be your next prospect.

To learn more about how to leverage LinkedIn now to improve your sales process, check out our Webinar page.