How to Generate Leads with LinkedIn: 5 Ways to Connect With Potential Customers

Generating leads with LinkedIn has become increasingly crucial, especially since 2018 when Facebook's algorithm change drastically reduced organic reach, prompting marketers to explore new platforms.

In 2020, we witnessed TikTok's rapid rise and the ensuing uncertainties about its future in the US market. Moving forward to 2024, the social media landscape continues to evolve unpredictably, with platforms like Twitter undergoing significant changes.

The point is that social media platforms are fickle, and the social landscape seems to change on an almost daily basis. One of the few constants has been LinkedIn.

Think about it: LinkedIn launched in 2003 as a business-oriented social network. It was purchased by Microsoft in 2016 and remained a business-oriented social network. And today? That’s right, it’s still a business-oriented social network with one billion members.

This consistency helps make LinkedIn an excellent tool for lead generation—especially for B2B marketers and salespeople. But like all tools, you have to know how to use LinkedIn to find success.

That’s where I come in. Think of me as your wise (so very wise) and handsome (incredibly handsome) LinkedIn lead generation guide. Under my expert tutelage, you’ll learn the skills you need to develop a winning lead generation strategy, connect with potential customers, and ultimately, close more deals for your sales team. Cool? Then let’s do this!

What is LinkedIn Lead Generation?

LinkedIn lead generation is the process of using LinkedIn to find, contact, and nurture high-quality leads for your business.

There are plenty of ways to do this, as we’ll discuss in a later section of this article.

But generally speaking, effective LinkedIn lead generation requires four things: a stellar LinkedIn profile (or LinkedIn page, if you’re promoting a company account,) a firm understanding of your target audience and a willingness to engage them, a few lead generation tools you can use to amplify your efforts in this area, and the ability to track and optimize key metrics.

Once you add these things to your selling repertoire, you’ll enjoy a few important benefits:

  • Business-focused users: People use LinkedIn to build their professional networks, learn from industry experts, and otherwise grow their careers. That’s why you don’t see many food photos or cute kitten videos. This is great news because it means potential customers will be more open to your sales pitch than the folks on other social media platforms. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re literally on the site for work-related reasons.
  • Access to decision-makers: Business-focused users are great. But if these people don’t have the power to actually purchase your products/services, does it matter? Fortunately, 65 million professionals on LinkedIn are decision-makers. This will supercharge your lead generation efforts because you’ll have the chance to talk to high-quality leads, not just the people who know high-quality leads.
  • Unique lead generation tools: Lastly, LinkedIn provides sales teams with top-level tools they can use to elevate their outreach campaigns. I’m talking about a paid ads platform, a detailed analytics dashboard (so you can see what’s working and what’s not,) and a little thing called LinkedIn Sales Navigator. We’ll discuss these tools in greater detail soon. For now, just know that LinkedIn has the features you need to generate leads.

No other social media platform boasts these advantages, which is why 97 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing purposes. Of course, it’s not all puppies and rainbows...

The Challenges Associated with LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn is a killer tool for B2B lead generation. But if you expect immediate success on the social network, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Like all good things, LinkedIn lead generation takes work. Lots of it. The trick is to work smart so that all of your efforts pay off.

Keep reading and I’ll show you exactly how to work smarter, not harder. (I’m your super wise and handsome guide remember? It’s my job.) That way you can avoid common challenges.

For example, some B2B marketers have trouble targeting potential leads. Others find it difficult to differentiate themselves and/or their companies from the millions of other LinkedIn users out there. Still others struggle with time management. They’re able to build an effective lead generation strategy, but implementing it takes hours. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Stick with me and you’ll learn all of the tricks, tips, and best practices you need to elevate your lead generation efforts.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

Okay, let’s talk strategy.

To generate leads with LinkedIn, you need to implement tried and true tactics. Don’t worry, I’ll give you step-by-step instructions to make sure you implement them the right way.

By the time we’re through, you’ll have the information you need to crush B2B lead generation for your sales team and connect with potential customers. So, without further ado...

1. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

First things first, polish your LinkedIn profile and/or company page until it shines like a diamond in the sun. This is actually easier than you might think.

Start by giving LinkedIn all of the information it asks for. This includes a professional headshot (LinkedIn profile) or brand logo (company page,) a keyword optimized headline, a vanity URL, multiple recommendations (if you can get them), and relevant content.

Remember, LinkedIn is a powerful search engine, so SEO best practices are essential. Look for popular phrases in your industry, then add them to your profile/page.

Maybe you’re a freelance marketing consultant. If so, keywords like “marketing consultant” or “paid advertising expert” might be a good fit, though you’ll need to do your own research to know for sure. If you work with clients in a specific geographic location, include that information, too, i.e., “marketing consultant in Los Angeles” and “paid advertising expert in LA.”

Here’s an example of a well-optimized Linkedin profile from Ryan Robinson, Head of Content here at Close:

Generate Leads with LinkedIn - LinkedIn Profile of Head of Content at Close

Notice that he includes his website, location, and several of his other projects as well.

You’ll also need to build an effective content marketing strategy for your profile/page. Create valuable LinkedIn content that grabs attention, nurtures new leads, and encourages potential customers to take the next step with your company, i.e., download a white paper or book a sales call.

Explore the dynamic synergy between AI and content marketing in our article.

Pro tip: LinkedIn content can range from 1 to 3,000 characters, giving you plenty of room to link to company lead magnets. Take advantage! Just make sure that your posts include pictures. Like all social media platforms, the best LinkedIn content is visually pleasing.

A Note on LinkedIn Company Pages

If you happen to manage a company page, you have a couple of advantages. Namely, custom buttons and LinkedIn lead gen forms—both of which will aid your lead generation efforts.

With a custom button you can direct quality leads to specific landing pages or marketing assets that you control. This will make it easier to promote limited-time offers, lead magnets, etc.

To add a custom button, navigate to the editing tools section of your company page. Then activate the custom button feature and choose a call-to-action (CTA). Your options include “Contact Us,” “Sign Up,” “Register,” “Visit Website,” and more.

A LinkedIn lead gen form will help you generate high quality prospects directly inside the LinkedIn platform. To create yours, navigate back to the editing tools section of your company page. Then select the option to collect leads and agree to the terms. Lastly, select your CTA, craft a compelling headline, and write enticing body copy that encourages action.

Pro tip: LinkedIn will not send you notifications when new leads come in. Check your company page’s analytics reports to learn this information. Then download the data.

At the end of the day, you need to commit to optimization to generate leads with LinkedIn. And the best place to start optimizing is your LinkedIn profile and/or company page.

Don’t skip this step!

2. Identify and Engage with Your Target Audience

Now that your LinkedIn profile and/or company page is in tip-top shape, you need to think about your target audience. Who are these people and how can you engage them effectively?

Craft a buyer persona or ideal customer profile to represent potential customers if you haven’t already. Make sure each document includes demographic information, such as industry, job title, and income level, as well as psychographic details like hopes, fears, and pain points.

Once you understand your target audience, search for them on LinkedIn.

The social network will let you target specific kinds of individuals—especially if you use a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Here’s a look at the filters you can use to find people on regular LinkedIn:

Generate Leads with LinkedIn - Use Filters on LinkedIn (like on this image)

Find people you can sell to, then send them a connection request and/or InMail message (if you’re a Sales Navigator customer.) Doing so will help you meet new leads. You can then nurture them with relevant content that leads to sales.

Speaking of content, engage your audience by creating it on a regular basis.

One of the keys to effective LinkedIn content is variety. Post a written stat one day and a video the next, for example. Then link to an article or infographic on your company’s website after that. As long as your target audience cares about the stuff you share, you’ll do fine.

It’s also important to participate in the LinkedIn community. You can do this by responding to comments on your posts, commenting on other LinkedIn users’ content, and joining LinkedIn groups that your ideal customers are in. This last tip is often overlooked, which doesn’t make sense. If you want to connect with buyers, hang out where the buyers are.

Pro tip: Encourage your company’s executives to participate on LinkedIn, too. I know they're busy. But high quality leads will be more receptive to your brand’s B2B digital marketing strategy if they can easily connect with your CEO, CFO, or CMO. That’s just the way it is.

3. Invest in Top Lead Generation Tools

As mentioned earlier, there are a bunch of lead generation tools you can use to build your professional network and connect with potential customers. LinkedIn lead gen forms are one of them, but there are others. Let’s take a quick look at the most important solutions:

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads will help you reach more qualified leads than you could on your own—as long as you understand how Campaign Manager works and use it effectively, of course.

If you’re not familiar with Campaign Manager, here’s a quick definition, straight from LinkedIn:

Campaign Manager is LinkedIn's ad management tool that empowers anyone to create, launch, and evaluate the performance of their LinkedIn ad campaigns.

Generate Leads with LinkedIn - Use LinkedIn Ads

Source: LinkedIn

Basically, Campaign Manager will help you advertise your business to specific audience groups based on industry, company size, job title, and other factors. That way you can connect with more potential leads, make more sales, and achieve more success. Yes!

There are different kinds of ads you can run on LinkedIn. For example, you can run a sponsored content campaign to promote specific posts. Or send sponsored InMail messages that allow you to show up in any LinkedIn user’s inbox—even if you’re not connected to them. Or more traditional carousel ads that appear in target users’ feeds.

Pro tip: LinkedIn ads is a BIG topic. We don’t have time to cover all of it in this article. Fortunately, there are step-by-step tutorials out there, like this one. Check it out for all the deets.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of LinkedIn’s premium tools. With it, you can pinpoint your target audience, build leads lists, send more personalized messages, and more.

It’s not cheap—pricing starts at $99 a month and goes up from there depending on the features needed—but it can really help you implement your company’s marketing strategy and take your conversion rates to a whole new level. Who doesn’t want those things?

When using Sales Navigator, focus on the targeting options. Once you get comfortable with them, you’ll be able to locate prospects with ease (including important decision-makers.) Then you just have to send them connection requests to start building relationships.

Pro tip: LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a BIG topic, just like LinkedIn ads. Lucky for you, we’ve published a killer guide on the topic (if I do say so myself.) Take a gander, then implement the tips we share to elevate your LinkedIn lead generation efforts. You’ll be glad you did.

Analytics Dashboard

The LinkedIn analytics dashboards you can access will vary based on your account.

Personal linkedIn profiles will allow you to see how well your content performs, and how many times your profile appears in LinkedIn searches. (Note: if you purchase a LinkedIn Premium membership, you also can see who’s viewed your profile in the past 90 days.)

You can use this information to craft more relevant content, update your profile with more targeted keywords, and reach out to qualified leads who’ve been digitally spying on you.

Company pages will tell you who visits your page, but isn’t a follower; how effective and engaging your LinkedIn content is; who interacts with your page and common traits between them; how your page’s followers and engagement levels compare to your competitors; how many leads and conversions your LinkedIn lead gen forms produce; and more.

You can use this information to better understand your target audience, pinpoint prospects, create stronger content, size up the competition, and improve your lead generation efforts.

Third-Party Tools

There are a variety of third-party tools you can tap for LinkedIn lead generation, too. Here’s a quick list of my personal favorites. Download them to see if they streamline your workflow:

  • GetProspect: Use this Chrome extension to source email addresses on LinkedIn. Navigate to a potential customer’s profile, activate the extension, and wait while the tool finds the lead’s email address. It’s simple and powerful, my favorite combination.
  • Evaboot: Use this automation tool to export leads from Sales Navigator, automatically clean the data, verify email addresses, and more. Even better, your entire marketing and/or sales team can use this tool at one time because it includes unlimited seats.
  • Buffer: Use this social media management tool to schedule weeks—or even months—worth of LinkedIn posts at one time. Then check out the app’s analytics suite to see which posts perform best and which hashtags drive the most engagement.

These tools make it easy for B2B marketers to create LinkedIn content, source email addresses straight from the social media platform, and actually use the information acquired.

4. Track the Right Metrics and KPIs

We already talked about LinkedIn analytics, but let’s dive into the topic a bit more. After all, you won’t find success if you don’t track and measure your results.

The question is, which metrics and KPIs should you focus on? Here’s my opinion:

  • Content metrics: Track KPIs like number of impressions, views, reactions, comments, shares, and clicks for your content, as well as your overall engagement rate.
  • Audience metrics: Track KPIs like total followers and number of followers over time. Then pay attention to who these people are by studying demographic information. KPIs like page views, unique visitors, custom button clicks, and search appearances are important, too.

Once you track these metrics, you’ll learn more about your audience—who are these people and how can I reach more effectively?—better evaluate your LinkedIn ads—does sponsored content or sponsored InMail perform better for me?—and otherwise improve your approach to LinkedIn lead generation.

5. Study Current LinkedIn Marketing Best Practices

Last but not least, keep your thumb on the pulse of the industry.

What have other LinkedIn users done to connect with qualified leads? Can you do something similar to find success on the social network? Experiment with different ideas to find out.

For example, LinkedIn might release a different ad type in the future. Give it a go. Your colleague could discover a new tool to aid their lead generation efforts. Follow suit. A random B2B marketer could develop a fresh way to use LinkedIn lead gen forms. Dive in and try it too.

Do your best to read LinkedIn related blog posts (like the one!), attend LinkedIn webinars, and even leverage the courses inside the LinkedIn Learning content library.

Level up Your LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategy

LinkedIn is a powerful tool. Using the expert hacks above, you should be able to build a winning lead generation strategy that produces high quality leads for your sales organization.

I just have one question for you: what will you do with all the new leads you drum up?

If it were me, I’d store their contact information inside a reliable CRM solution. That way I could easily follow up with them in the future, build relationships, and eventually, make sales.

When it comes to CRM software, you can’t go wrong with Close. Our platform is extremely easy to use, but still includes all of the features you need to close deals, such as power and predictive dialers, an email sequencer (complete with templates!) and analytics dashboards.

We won’t screw you over on pricing either. Start a free 14-day trial of Close today. If you like the tool, sign up for a paid plan for as low as $49 a month. If not, cancel, no questions asked.

I wouldn’t be a very good guide if I suggested a subpar CRM system. I really think Close is worth your time.

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