Almost 83% of all professionals are on LinkedIn, and it has become arguably the number one social media platform for professionals. Businesses tend not to tap into the gold mine of possibilities like they can. The potential for business is enormous through LinkedIn if the social media platform is leveraged and used properly. LinkedIn has 161 million members with every fortune 500 company represented. If you are looking for leads for your company you can easily obtain them using LinkedIn. I have listed some ways to generate leads and generate prospects with LinkedIn.

1. Meet Second Degree Connections – By adding connections you are giving LinkedIn permission to temporarily access your email and to grow your first degree connections coming from your email database. Connecting with people allows you to re-connect with old prospects and new prospects. Old prospects can re-ignite a previous warm lead that failed, and new prospects are new potential for more business. Your connections are your leads, and the warmer your first degree connections are, the more you can do with them. In order to develop prospects and generate leads you want to: message them whenever you can, ask them an expertise question, meet up with them in person, and connect via Twitter and Facebook. After developing warm first degree connections you now are ready to connect with second degree connections, which are those that are connected to your first degree connections that you aren’t connected with yet. Use your first degree connection as your leverage and marketing tool in your introduction to the second degree connection. Your first degree connections are the bridge to connecting with second degree people and growing your potential prospects even more.

2. Watch the Newsfeed – Don’t ignore the LinkedIn newsfeed. Filter the newsfeed to show only news from new connections so that fresh connections are remembered and not forgotten almost immediately. Use the newsfeed to see who your new connections are connecting with so that you can have a warm introduction to those prospects. Seeing who is connecting with who on the newsfeed allows for competition and gives you an advantage on who you should target.

3. Mine LinkedIn Groups and Answers – You can generate leads and develop prospects by developing relationships in groups. Make sure you establish your company’s relevance and what you do by answering questions from potential prospects. This might be the first time a potential prospect even hears about your business so don’t scare them away but provide enough information so that they know your expertise. Also, use LinkedIn Answers to ask questions to people about their problems or frustrations that might lead to the need for your service or product.

4. Develop Prospects Using Advanced Search – Advanced search is a database that allows you to search for anyone using different criteria. Use this database just like you would use any other database by defining your target market specifically. Take advantage of this tool.

5. Reach the Decision Makers – Network your way and find who the buyer would be from the company page you are visiting for a developed lead. This can lead you the decision maker who you ultimately want to start talking to. Having a positive conversation with these people will lead to getting their phone numbers which will lead to even warmer conversations, generating business.

Author: Michael Whartnaby, Prospectr Marketing