If you’re in charge of business development, identifying qualified leads is a core component of your success. There are a plethora of mailing list companies where you can purchase lists. Unfortunately, the quality varies and they can be very expensive. The good news is there are numerous ways you can find and/or build lists using free Web tools, LinkedIn being one of the better free resources. The answer to the “how do you do it” question is using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search (the small link next to the main search button).
Looking for someone at a specific company? Enter the company name in the Company field, and using the pull-down menu, choose if you want only current employees or if you want past employees included. Want people with job titles within a specific geographic area? Enter in the appropriate job titles in the Title field, and in the Location field, specify a mile radius around a zip code. Looking for experts in a specific task within a specific industry, enter words and phrases in the Keywords field. Of course you can conduct a search using a combination of all of the fields.
LinkedIn allows you to also limit your search by keywords and by industry. So for example, let’s say I was looking for marketing decision makers in the computer software industry within 50 miles of my zip code. In LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, I enter the query “marketing” OR “advertising” in the keyword field (by entering OR in all uppercase, I’m telling LinkedIn that one or both of those words or phrases must appear in my search results). In the job title field, I’ll choose “current” and then enter “vice president” OR “director” OR “manager” OR “president” OR “vp.” I then choose “50 miles” and enter in my zip code. In the industry selection field, I click the “computer software” check box.
When I conducted this search in my LinkedIn account, I returned more than 1,000 results that met my search criteria. When I removed the geographic limitation, I returned more than 64,000 people!
Unfortunately, LinkedIn only allows you to see 100 results at one time. To see more, you need to subscribe to LinkedIn’s premium service, which is a good idea if your company has a great need for lead lists.
What I recommend, however, is to try and refine your searches to get the result list to fewer than 100, as that is about the number of leads one can manage as an individual salesperson at one time anyhow. The easiest way to refine is, on the left side of the results page, add additional keyword terms, reduce the number of job titles, and/or refine your geographic scope. For example, using the previous search, on the results page, if I limit my search to just “VP” OR “vice president” within 10 miles of my house I receive 64 results. That’s a sales lead list I can easily manage.
Of course the other advantage is, now, prior to every sales call, I can also click on the individual’s LinkedIn profile and learn about the person’s work background, educational history, awards won, recommendations, interests, etc. I can then use this information to connect on a personal level and ensure relevancy during my call or in-person meeting. I can even use the “Get Introduced through a Connection” feature to find out who I know that knows the vice president I’m interested in meeting, and ask if my contact would make a virtual connection.
What if I’m not connected on the first, second, or third level with some of the 64 contacts? Again, you can purchase a premium LinkedIn subscription to access the name. There are other work-arounds as well to that problem that are free, however, that’s for another blog post (or read my book … hey, I can’t give away all of my secrets).
LinkedIn is an amazingly powerful tool for salespeople, job hunters, or anyone interested in finding individuals with specific backgrounds and talents. It’s even more powerful when you truly know how to use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search features, which now you do, now that you Know More!
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