When I speak to CEO groups, the first thing I ask the audience is what they want to learn during our three hours together.

More often than not, they want to know how to use LinkedIn for prospecting.

It’s so simple, it’s a wonder hardly anyone uses it.

If you love to make cold calls, you’re sick in the head and there is no need for you to read on. But, if you’re like me, and would prefer an introduction or a warm lead, following are five steps for using LinkedIn to do just that.

There are lots of ways you can pay to have this done. For instance, you can upgrade to the premium version of LinkedIn or use Mozenda to scrape data for you. But the recommendations here are all on the free version.

1. Log into your account (I know, I know, but many people forget they have to do this and then call me and say, “It won’t work.” Uh…are you logged in?).

2. Go to the search bar and type in the search you want. For this purpose, and because it’s my target, we’re going to use CEO.

3. Then the search page comes up and you can refine your search. Because I am a Vistage member and speaker, I’m going to click on people who also are Vistage members or speakers. Then, I’m going to refine to second connections because I want to meet people I don’t already know. Then I’m going to narrow it down to the greater Chicagoland area. May as well work here for now so I don’t have to get on a plane. Then I can even narrow down the industries, if I want. For this purpose, I do “all industries.” The search gives me 24 results.

4. Then I’m going to scroll through the 24 results and see if there are any companies that make sense for us. We specialize in manufacturing and healthcare so not all of them will be good contacts for us. Kevin Krak looks like he might be a good connection. I click to see who our six shared connections are and voila! I know that I can ask all six of them what they know about Kevin, if he hires PR/marketing firms, and if they’d be willing to make an introduction. I’d probably start with Jeannie Walters, even though she’d likely tell me to stick it.

5. Then I can do one of two things: I can either click the “get introduced” button and ask Jeannie to introduce me that way or I can just send him a personal invite through “add to network.” If I do the former, I’m going to have a separate conversation with Jeannie first, in order to gauge her relationship with him and to get as much information as I can. And I prefer that method because it becomes a referral, not just me sending him an invite with the hope of connecting.

And that’s really it. It takes maybe 10 minutes to go through this entire process. You can even use the advanced search, combine all of the search results, and export into an Excel document so you can track your prospects. It’s that simple.

So why, exactly, are you not already doing this?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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