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A 3-Step Process to Generating (Free) B2B Leads on LinkedIn

April 26, 2018

I have spent years working with a wide range of businesses, from Fortune 500s to local mom & pops generating sales and leads online. One thing that has perplexed me over and over again is, “Why isn’t LinkedIn a goldmine for new business?!”

Could it be because:

I was unsure, but I knew there had to be a better way, so I decided to figure out how I could generate leads for our business through my LinkedIn network.

Is There an Opportunity to Generate Business from LinkedIn?

First things first, let’s take a step back and evaluate if this is even an opportunity worth pursuing.

We all know that LinkedIn is the world’s largest database of business professionals, but when you break this down into actual numbers the size of the opportunity becomes clear.

linkedin stats

According to LinkedIn:

  • There are now 500 million business professionals on their network
  • 100 million of those users are active daily
  • 40 million users are in decision-making roles

That’s 40 million potential targets on the LinkedIn network that are in positions to make business and buying decisions. This leaves little doubt that there is a large audience which presents the opportunity to generate new business from the LinkedIn platform if a smart strategy is employed.

Strategy Parameters

Now I knew there was an opportunity, so it was time to see if I could find the right strategy. It is important to determine what the right strategy is, so for me that meant it met the following parameters:

  1. Generated leads consistently
  2. Was repeatable and not too time-consuming
  3. No ad spend required
  4. No mass spamming

The Process

Here is the simple three-step process I came up with that has been generating very strong results without a large time commitment and no money spent on LinkedIn advertising. I have been repeating this process 2-4 times a week depending on my workload.

Step 1: Viewing

The first step is viewing of target profiles. This requires you to first determine who is your ideal lead. If you’re using LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool you are given 22 different filter categories to refine the LinkedIn database into your ideal target list. These categories include: Geography, Keywords, Relationship, Industry, Postal Code, Job Function, Job Title, Seniority, Years in Position, Years at Company, Years of Experience, Company, Company Headcount, and more.

how to use linkedin for lead generation

One important note for our process is that we only add people to our list that are 2nd connections to myself. This is for two reasons:

  1. It gives me something in common with the person we will be targeting. From a psychological standpoint, this makes a big difference. According to a study referenced by LinkedIn, 87% of B2B buyers had a favorable impression of a salesperson connected through their network as opposed to 4% when the person wasn’t connected.
  2. This avoids the mass spamming of anyone and everyone on LinkedIn that have nothing in common with you.

Once we have that list we simply start to view the profiles of those people one by one. Nothing else.

The reason we do this is to show up in the person’s “Recently Viewed” list. Once we have viewed a profile we then wait to see if they view us back and move on to step 2.

Step 2: Connection Request

Once we have viewed our target profiles we wait to see who views us back. When someone views us back we take this as an initial sign of interest or a first opt-in point. Once someone views your profile, the next step is to send them a connection request.

linkedin lead gen

This connection request should always be personalized and not the standard LinkedIn message of “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” This is boring and gives no context as to why someone would want to connect with you.

Address them personally to stand out from the other connections and give them a reason to connect. Personalized connection requests will drastically increase the chances of someone accepting. Here are a few more tips on writing the perfect LinkedIn connection request.

Step 3: Message

Like with Step 1, after we send a connection request we again wait to see who accepts those requests. Waiting to let our targets take action avoids spamming anyone who isn’t interested in interacting with us. When someone accepts our connections request, Step 3 is to now send them a message.

This message should thank them for connecting and introduce the idea of setting up a time to talk. These messages shouldn’t be overly salesy, but merely look to start a conversation and continue to grow the relationship with your target.

If someone doesn’t respond after a few days a follow-up message may be appropriate as well, but don’t push too much. If someone isn’t responding they probably aren’t interested in talking.

My results

In conclusion, I want to give you an idea of the results I saw from running this process over a month. I really didn’t know what to expect going in, but was really excited about I saw:

  • My profile views went up 1200% with almost 1000 people viewing my profile.
  • I got almost 350 new connections added to my network.
  • My messages to new connections saw a 20% response rate.
  • I booked 30 new meetings with potential sales targets.
b2b lead generation on linkedin

I did employ some internal software to scale this process up, but this was by far the best results I have gotten from any channel to drive leads for my business. This process is simple and repeatable for anyone selling in a B2B context.

If you are looking to generate more leads for your business give it a shot!

About the Author

Tom Wolf is the founder of Rev Digital Group, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses generate leads online through AdWords, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn.