This week I was asked:
How can I use LinkedIn to do more business with my best customers and maybe even find new similar customers?
As I pondered this question while cutting the grass yesterday, I decided to put together a checklist of specific steps you could take to do just that. For those of you who are not in direct sales, don't feel left out. You will want to use this checklist to concentrate your efforts toward individuals or companies that you may want to work for, buy from, work with, volunteer for, interview with, or donate to.
What this boils down to is that LinkedIn is one of the best business information research tools around, and by following certain steps we can find all kinds of information that may help us uncover new ways to expand existing relationships or find similar ones, regardless of the purpose of those relationships. Do this for all of your best customers.
Grow Your Business with Existing Customers and Find New Customers
Company name __________________________________
Your personal contact(s) at the company
  • ___________________________________
  • ___________________________________
  • ___________________________________
  • ___________________________________
STEP 1    Be sure these individuals are first-level connections.

STEP 2    Review the following sections of each individual's profile, keeping these thoughts and questions in mind for each area or section:
  • Recommendations Received
    • Who wrote the recommendations?
    • What traits or characteristics are mentioned many times, and what can you learn about how to approach that individual more effectively by what others have said about him/her?
    • Could you ask for an introduction to any of these individuals?.
  • Recommendations Written
    • Are any of the recommendations written for people who have a relationship to the writer that is similar to the relationship you have with the writer? If so, what can you learn about the attributes that they consider important in the relationship?
    • Are there any competitors? If so, this might be a bad sign!
    • Could you ask for an introduction to any of these individuals?
    • Could you ask for a recommendation from your first-level connection?
  • Groups
    • Be sure to look at all the groups to which they belong. Consider joining the ones that are in their industry. This may help you find customers that are similar to them.
  • Keywords
    • Read the Headline, Summary, Specialties, and Job Experiences, and see if you can find words they use frequently to describe their business. Add these words to the list of words you use to search for people and companies on LinkedIn. This can help you find more of these types of people and companies.
  • Industry
    • Search for groups in their industry, and consider joining them.
    • Find the most connected people in their industry and region (if applicable) and connect with them or, better yet, meet with them. These are the knowledge people in the industry, and -- trust me -- you want to know them.
      • Go to "Advanced" (top right corner)
      • Check the appropriate industries
      • Enter zip code and radius (if applicable)
      • Click the blue "Search" button
      • Change "Sort By" from "Relevance" to "Connections"
  • Connect with them on other social media sites
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Blog


STEP 3    Review the following sections of the company profile, keeping in mind these thoughts and questions for each area or section:.

  • "Follow Company"
    • Be sure to do this. It's legalized stalking.
    • Look over the list of individuals who are following the company, and see if you can find any competitors or other people you already know. This knowledge might lead you to approach this company in a new and different way.
  • Review "Employees"
    • Make new connection requests if possible. If something happens with your #1 contact, you want to be tight with as many people as possible at that company. It could be the glue that keeps you in the relationship.
  • "Insightful Statistics"
    • Look over "People Also Viewed" for possible other companies that are in the same space that you may want to follow up with.
  • Keywords
    • Be sure to note the keywords used in the Company Description and the Specialties section. Use these words yourself to search for people and companies you want to consider doing business with.
STEP 4    Status Updates
  • Keep track of the conversations being had by and about the company, its products, its brands, and your key contacts at the company. This is another form of legalized stalking.
    • Click the words "Search Updates," located right below your Status Box on your home page. When the box opens up, type in the person's name. You will then be able to see everything the person shared during the past two weeks. Yes, you already had this on your update feed. But as you know, we don't always see them all or concentrate on just one person's thoughts at a time. You will get good insight on what is important to him/her and how you might be able to help in some way.
    • Consider saving the searches that you find most useful or important.