LinkedIn

The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Lead Generation (2021)

Complete Guide to LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn is widely known as the “professional” social media, where CEOs and interns alike create accounts to network with colleagues, friends and professional connections. 

Many people have even attracted a large audience to their brand by posting regular, valuable content on LinkedIn, and are able to monetize that brand with courses, mentorship, and coaching. 

But, what if you have no experience on LinkedIn, haven’t built much of a brand on the platform, but would still like to leverage LinkedIn to get in touch with prospects? 

The answer is LinkedIn lead generation.

What is LinkedIn Lead Generation?

LinkedIn lead generation is a form of outbound marketing, similar to cold email or cold calling. 

But, rather than reaching prospects in their email inbox or phone, you’ll be connecting with and messaging them directly in their LinkedIn inbox to pitch an offer.

Like any other outbound marketing, the goal is to get in contact with decision makers at companies you’d like to work with and pitch them your products or services.

With over 740 million active users in 2020 all on the platform for professional purposes, LinkedIn is a goldmine for B2B marketing and selling. 

Why LinkedIn Lead Generation?

LinkedIn is the best social platform for B2B outbound marketing.

Nowhere else on the Internet or in the world will you be able to find so many CEOs, partners, and decision makers all gathered in one place under the premise of business. 

The Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is essentially the biggest networking event on the planet, and it’s going on 24/7. 

Better yet, as we’ll talk about later, you’re able to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s tools to filter your lead search so you’re only reaching out to people in your target market. 

LinkedIn lead generation is akin to standing in a room with thousands of decision makers in your target market, without having to leave the comfort of your office (or home).

Multi Channel Outreach

Although it’s a very powerful platform, LinkedIn works best in conjunction with cold email or cold call outreach. 

Your prospects are busy, and reaching out to them on multiple platforms will greatly increase your chances at getting in touch with them. 

No answer on email? Maybe their inbox is flooded, and they haven’t checked it. But, they decide to hop on LinkedIn, see your connection request, like your messaging, and are interested in what you have to offer. 

This is an opportunity that wouldn’t exist without LinkedIn outreach. 

Let’s dive into how you can start with LinkedIn lead generation.

Optimizing Your Profile

Before you begin reaching out to prospects, it’s very important your profile is optimized.

Just as you wouldn’t attend a networking event in sweats and a hoodie, you shouldn’t do LinkedIn outreach with a naked, unprofessional profile.

Optimizing your profile will establish instant credibility and trust, and will greatly increase your chances at getting a response from prospects.

Perfect profile optimization for LinkedIn lead generation

Here’s how to optimize it: 

A Professional Profile Picture

Your profile picture should be you dressed in professional or business casual attire. If you don’t have a picture handy, have someone take a picture of you in a button up shirt and tie with a plain or simple background.

No need to over complicate this. 

This image should feature branding of your company or a picture of you in a “work environment”. This can be you speaking at an event, you doing work, your office space, etc. 

If you want a visually appealing banner that features your company’s branding, you can hire a Fiverr designer for the price of a burrito.

About Section 

This section should grab the attention of whoever is visiting your profile. They should get a good idea of what exactly you do, and why they should give you some of their time on a call. 

Equate this to an elevator pitch you’d give at a networking event. 

Optimized About section on LinkedIn for lead generation
Example of a great LinkedIn “About section”

Featured Section

This is your opportunity to be an authority. LinkedIn gives you a section on your profile to showcase your content, so take advantage of it. 

Post any LinkedIn articles, videos, or blog articles you’ve written.

Connections

You want to show that you actively network on LinkedIn, so it’s best to be connected with some people. 500+ connections is ideal so you don’t get your account flagged when you begin your outreach. 

For starters, find a few friends or colleagues and connect with them. You can head to LinkedIn groups and browse through to find your target market and start sending them connection requests.

Top Skills

Enter the skills you’re most proficient at based on your experience, and have a few colleagues endorse them. 

A trustworthy Skills & Endorsements section on LinkedIn

Company Page

Since you’re doing B2B outreach, having a company page set up and linked on your profile is key. Here’s how to optimize your company page: 

  • Input your company logo and a company banner
  • Fill out descriptions for your company: who you help, what results you produce, how you do it
  • Get friends and colleagues to follow the page
  • Add some posts (link to blogs, authority articles, your knowledge base, any videos you might have)
  • Add employees

Here’s an example of a strong company page.

Now that your profile and company profile are optimized, it’s time to take the next step in your outreach.

How to Build Lists for LinkedIn Lead Generation

The first step to build your LinkedIn outreach system is always to build a list of targeted contacts to reach out to.

Focus on building segmented lists of people that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) that you’d love to work with and can add enormous value to.

Here are a few great resources for building B2B contact lists: 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: 

This is LinkedIn’s pro account, built just for sales prospecting that you can use to build a list of potential customers, and can filter by things like industry, revenue, job title, employee headcount, location, and more.

Here’s a great YouTube video showing how to leverage Sales Navigator.

Start with a 30 day trial.

ListKit: 

ListKit builds lists with personalized intro copy for you. This can be a huge time saver and is highly recommended if you’re serious about building your outbound lead generation system.

Simply choose your list size, input your targeting requirements, and receive your B2B contact list within 24 hours.

Once you receive your list, you can plug the formatted CSV file right into your automation tool of choice.

Once you have your first list of contacts, it’s time to set up outreach automation.

LinkedIn Automation Tools

LinkedIn automation will save you hours per day of manually sending connection requests, sending messages, and following up with prospects. 

Just input your list of contacts, and sit back as the automation tool does the work for you.

There are two main types of LinkedIn automation tools:

Chrome Extensions

Many LinkedIn automation tools run as Chrome Extensions in your browser.

In general, these are cheaper tools and need your computer to be open and running to complete their automations.

Also, in many cases, these apps can be less secure overall and can put your LinkedIn account at risk. 

Cloud-Based

LinkedIn automation tools that run in the cloud are referred to as “cloud-based”.

These can run 24/7, even if your computer is shut off, and generally offer better security to make sure your LinkedIn account isn’t at risk. Cloud-based tools are usually more expensive. 

Feel free to pick the tool that best fits your needs and your budget.

There are some drawbacks to automation that you should be aware of. You can get your LinkedIn account restricted if you send too fast on a new account.

You can also hurt your brand and burn bridges if you send generic messages. Always focus on quality over quantity!

We recommend checking out Skylead for cloud-based LinkedIn automation

Staying Compliant With LinkedIn’s Connection Request Limits

Before setting up your first campaign, it’s important to be aware of some limits LinkedIn has recently implemented.

Before 2021, you could send around 700 connection requests a week, no problem.

But recently, LinkedIn has limited that number to just around 100 per week. 

It’s important that you stay compliant with this limit, otherwise you run the risk of getting your account suspended or even banned. 

There are several ways to get around these limits including using multiple LinkedIn accounts in your outreach by adding your partner’s or a colleague’s account to the campaign or starting your outreach with cold email and adding LinkedIn touches afterwards.

Either way, make sure to keep your targeting and outreach focused on quality, not quantity, or your LinkedIn account can get restricted.

Writing LinkedIn Messages That Get Replies

Now it’s time to set up your campaign with outreach scripts. 

Unlike cold email or cold calling, in LinkedIn you start by sending a connection request. If they accept your request, you are able to send them as many messages as you’d like.

Since LinkedIn is a social media platform, it’s important to keep your scripts short and conversational.

For example, you have the option of writing a message with your connection request. We always leave our connection request message blank.

We’ve tested tons of clever messages, and the blank connection always performs best.

Imagine they receive your connection request with no message. They click through to your profile and give it a look to make sure you seem credible.

If they feel you’re credible, they’ll go ahead and accept the connection request. 

Next, you’ll want to send them a more detailed message.

LinkedIn Message Scripts

Let’s look at some scripts we use when prospecting for our agency.

Message 1: After Connecting

“It’s great to be connected with you, {name}. {personalized_line}”

The {name} inserts the prospect’s first name.

The {personalized_line} is a researched introduction that says something unique about the prospect, usually pulling from their social media posts or blog articles on their website. 

Message 2: The Pitch Message

A few minutes after the initial message, we will send our “soft pitch”: “Just wanted to reach out and ask…”

Examples: 

  • “Just wanted to reach out and ask if you’re taking on any new clients? 
  • “Just wanted to reach out and ask if you’re looking for influencers to promote {company}?

Message 3: Bump Message

“{name}, just bumping this up :)”

The purpose of this message is to bring attention back to the pitch message.

Message 4: Final Follow Up

“Quick question, would you be interested in learning how…”

Example:

  • “Quick question, would you be interested in learning how to generate qualified leads by leveraging your LinkedIn profile?”

This has worked very well for us as of the writing of this article. However, we are always testing new variations and improving results (and you should too).

Following Up After a Reply

Once a prospect responds to one of your messages, the money is in the follow up. 

As you can see, our scripts don’t have much of an “ask” in them, because of the conversational nature of LinkedIn. 

Instead, we ask questions that open up the conversation so we can steer the prospect towards a booked call or a sale. 

Once they do reply to our initial outreach, we go in for the pitch.

For example, If someone replies to “Just wanted to reach out and ask if you’re taking on any new clients?” with “Yes I am”, we’d get back to them with something like this: 

“Great to hear. Would you be interested in learning how my agency can help you sign 1-2 clients a month with cold outreach?”

If they’re interested, great!

Get them booked on a sales call and close the sale on a Zoom call. 

If they aren’t interested, also fine. Thank them for their time and move on.

But what if they reply once, then don’t get back to you after that?

This is where reactivation follow ups boost ROI in your LinkedIn lead generation.

How We Handle Follow Ups

If we receive an initial reply and then the prospect goes dark, we follow up with them a handful of times every 3-5 days with messages like:

  • Just bumping this up before the day gets busy!
  • Thoughts?
  • Still interested in a call?

Just simple messages to re-engage them back to the conversation.

If they still aren’t responsive, we’ll try to reach them once more with a cold call or an email.

We email them with the subject line “Re: LinkedIn”, and then reference the conversation before repeating our offer back to them.

The goal of following up is to get a concrete response, whether it’s yes or no.

Nurture LinkedIn Leads with Content

Even if they have gone dark on you, you can still reactivate them another way: by posting authority content on LinkedIn.

Now that you’re connected with them, they will see your LinkedIn posts.

This gives you a great opportunity to begin generating inbound leads by posting valuable content that helps solve their pain points, or gives them a new perspective on their problem.

How you do this will depend a lot on your industry and offer, but video content, blog articles, LinkedIn articles, and live webinars/events are great formats to consider promoting to your new targeted audience.

You can also boost those posts with engagement pod softwares like LinkBoost.

The Goal of LinkedIn Outreach

The goal of cold outreach is not to sell the prospect right in the inbox. Instead, it’s to gauge interest, and then get them to the next part of the sales process: a sales call. 

If a prospect is interested in learning more about our offer, we’ll push them to a sales call.

Pro Tip: Don’t shove a Calendly link down their throat in the inbox.

Oftentimes, people will be abrasive to this and won’t book a time at all.

Instead, ask what times work best for them in the next week or two, and book them manually on your calendar with their contact information.

This way, they don’t need to do any work, their ego doesn’t step in when it comes to booking a time, and you get them to commit to a sales call. 

Once they’re on the sales call, you’ll be able to qualify them, pitch them on your offer, and hopefully close them. 

Unique Ways to Message Your Prospects

If you want to go the extra mile in the inbox, there are a few great ways to stand out. 

Audio Messages (or Voice Notes) 

When you’re in your LinkedIn inbox, you’ll notice a little microphone icon on the bottom right. 

Hold this button, speak your message into the microphone rather than typing it, and send it over to the prospect.

Based on our experience sending audio messages, your prospects will be impressed with the message and will be much more likely to respond. 

Audio messages are an underrated feature on the mobile platform, and it makes the whole conversation feel much more personable.

Manual, personal touches like this can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns versus relying 100% on automation.

Videos

If you’re really willing to take the time to go the extra mile, sending a video message will do everything the audio message does, and then some.

Prospects will see you’ve taken the time to reply to them directly, will put a face to the name, and will truly appreciate you going above and beyond to get back to them.

Use video messages on LinkedIn to boost lead generation

Personalized GIFs

Personalized GIFs are a clever touch for follow ups, but be careful not to overuse them or your messages will come off as SPAM.

Hyperise is a great tool to incorporate personalized GIFs directly into your outreach messages.

Skylead also provides GIF support natively in their platform.

Social Selling Tips

Sometimes it takes more than a clever message to catch a prospect’s attention. 

Social selling is using the full social media potential of LinkedIn’s platform to build more trust with your prospects.

Here are a few tactics you can use to build more trust:

Endorsing skills

A great way to catch someone’s attention if they haven’t gotten back to you is to endorse their top skills.

Simply view their profile, scroll down to their skills section, and “highly recommend” them for their top 3 skills.

This takes all of 10 seconds, but is effective because they’ll be notified right away.

Following their company

Another small gesture that goes a long way… 

Find their company page from their profile, click “follow”.

This is great because you’ll also get updates when they post on their company page, so you can engage and use that to further personalize your voice note and video touch points.

Reacting to messages to emojis

This isn’t necessary, but it puts a real personal touch when you “react” to a prospect’s message with a thumbs up or a heart. 

As chat interfaces like LinkedIn’s become more widespread, little touches like this actually build trust.

Show that you’re an empathetic human, that you have good energy, and that you aren’t just an automated bot set on world domination!

Conclusion

LinkedIn is a tremendous tool for finding ideal prospects, booking sales calls, and closing deals with new customers.

It’s the biggest business-focused social platform on the internet, and it’s stuffed to the brim with influential, powerful decision makers that are available to you at the touch of a few buttons. 

When done properly, LinkedIn will help you to predictably scale your outbound marketing efforts, supplement cold email or cold calls, and will help you grow an engaged audience of your ideal customers at scale.

Dive in and start making magic happen!

What’s your favorite way to generate leads on LinkedIn? Post in the comments!

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