LinkedIn is the most popular professional social network among salespeople.  That’s not surprising since you can generate leads and referrals and do targeted prospecting on LinkedIn.  However, many users don’t take advantage of all LinkedIn’s features.  As a result, they’re missing out on referrals and potential sales.  Here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to help you with sales prospecting and generating leads.

Exporting a Spreadsheet of LinkedIn Connections

A useful but little known LinkedIn feature is the ability to export a spreadsheet of connections.  The spreadsheet includes full names, companies, and job titles for your connections.  This spreadsheet is a great tool for prospecting, finding leads, and making sure your customer and prospect data is current.  Here’s how to export a spreadsheet of your connections.

  1. Click the My Network icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Click Your connections on the left rail.
  3. Click Manage synced and imported contacts near the top right of the page.
  4. Under Advanced actions on the right rail, click Export contacts. (You may be prompted to sign into your account.)
  5. Click Export Contacts.
  6. You will receive an email to your Primary Email address which will include a link where you can download your list of connections.

If you’re using Internet Explorer and you see a yellow pop-up blocker across the top or bottom of the page:

  1. Click the yellow bar.
  2. Select Save As.
  3. Save the file in your desired location.


Adding Every Customer to Your Network

Adding every customer you close to LinkedIn benefits you in two ways.  First, it’s much easier to request a referral from the right person.  Once you’ve identified a prospect, visit their LinkedIn profile and check if any of your current customers are a shared connection.

Second, LinkedIn’s suggested actions will notify you when your customer’s contact moves to a new company or gets promoted.  Both events present you with new sales opportunities.

Publishing Content Using LinkedIn Pulse

Many of the world’s most renown business leaders publish content on LinkedIn, including Richard Branson and Marc Benioff.  However, LinkedIn Pulse isn’t just for business leaders.  Anyone can publish on the platform, and it’s a great tool for sales professionals for a few reasons.  First, you can share your insights through your professional identity.  Second, you can reach your target audience instantly. Finally, everyone in your network receives a notification when you publish on LinkedIn.  It’s up to you to decide what kind of content to publish, but here are some suggestions:

  • Customer testimonials about how they use your products and services
  • Analysis of new industry trends
  • Product updates

Using LinkedIn’s Suggested Actions as Touch Points

The best salespeople know that relationships are critical to success.  LinkedIn’s Suggested Actions feature is a great tool for building relationships.  Everyday, LinkedIn suggests ways for you to stay in touch with your contacts.  You’ll receive notifications when they move to a new company, get a promotion, celebrate a work anniversary, or post a new picture.  Use these suggested actions as a way to reconnect and strengthen your relationships with your customer contacts.

Joining and Engaging in Your Prospects’ Groups

LinkedIn Groups give you the opportunity to engage with prospects before you make a cold call.  Follow these steps to determine what groups to join and become active in them.

  1. Look up each contact in your prospect spreadsheet with their LinkedIn profile.
  2. Copy and paste the groups to which your contact belong into the spreadsheet.
  3. Consider the following to determine two or three groups to join:
    • How many members are in the group
    • Open or closed group
    • How engaged the group’s members are
    • How many prospects are in a group
  4. Set up an engagement cadence and engage in a mix of these actions
    • Comment on another member’s post
    • Answer the community’s question
    • Ask questions of the community
    • Post product promotional content

Using LinkedIn as a sales prospecting tool takes time and effort.  However, you’ll find it well worth the investment once you see your referrals and sales increase.


Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.