Getting clients from LinkedIn: A how-to guide

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Think of LinkedIn and it’s very likely that you’ll see it as professional social network – something like a Facebook for professionals.

That assumption is not wrong; the website is essentially a platform for you to share your career accomplishments, connect with colleagues, and see what other people in your industry are up to.

The way we see it, however, is a little bit different. We think that LinkedIn is not a social network; it is a goldmine for business owners like you.

Why do we say that it’s a goldmine?

LinkedIn has been the foundation of many successful businesses over the past decade. The career-based approach as well as other tools that are not available on other social media platforms makes it a prime target especially for B2B companies.

It can serve as both an outreach tool, an inbound marketing tool, as well as being a magnet that attracts prospects to your business.

When used properly (which we’ll teach you how to do so in this post), LinkedIn can help you secure profitable, valuable, and long-term clients.

Let’s move on.

What is LinkedIn?

Before we talk about the important stuff, it’s good to know the basics of the platform.

LinkedIn launched in 2003 and is currently the third most popular social network in terms of unique monthly visitors – right behind Facebook and Twitter.  Think Facebook, but with a more professional feel.

The social network is primarily centered around careers, and it enables users to connect and share content with other professionals, including colleagues as well as potential employers, business partners, and new employees.

If you’re a business on LinkedIn, it can also be a fantastic marketing tool.

As a home business owner, it’s an ideal way to mingle with personalities in your industry and potential partners, build your client base, and get referrals.

You start by connecting with people you already know and who know you, and through “connections”, build a larger network for the purpose of gaining resources, finding freelance work and finding clients.

Setting up and optimising your LinkedIn profile

This section is all about setting up your LinkedIn profile for the best chance of success.

However, we won’t go into a step-by-step guide of actually setting up your profile as the process is straightforward and easy for first time users.

1) Have a good profile photo and background photo

One of the most important elements of a LinkedIn profile is to have a professional looking image for your profile. Doing so helps to boost your profile as well as helping you to generate better results from your client-hunting efforts.

People want to see and recognise a face of the people that they’re working with, so having a great photo will increase your chances of getting responses.

In the modern age, it only takes a glance and a poorly chosen low-resolution image to cripple your career ambitions.

Like it or not, we make judgments about every person based on the image that we see; the same can be said for for recruiters and others getting their first impressions from what we put online.

Another point in case, if you go to a networking event with a handful of business cards while intending to follow up on LinkedIn, it’s much harder for prospects to remember you. A missing photo can easily lead to missed connections.

Here are some tips for you to select a good profile photo:

Appear friendly and approachable

You should always looks for a professional headshot but it doesn’t have to bland all the time. You want to show some spark and warmth in your image so that your prospect sees you as a professional, but also someone with whom they’re comfortable working with.

You don’t have to be super attractive to have an impact; studies have shown that average face shapes and features appear to be more trustworthy than people who have above-average looks.

Here’s an example of a good profile photo.

Remember, the more confident you are, the more likely that a person is going to enjoy working with you.

Make sure that you are the main element in the photo

You want to be in the front, center, and be the focus of the photo. If you are taking outdoor photos, make sure that the background or surroundings don’t take away the focus from you.

Close-ups are the best choice for profile photos as LinkedIn’s default profile photo size is fairly small. Having your head and shoulders fill the frame ensures those viewing your profile get a good look at your confident and approachable expression.

Avoid selfies if you can

Even if you think that your selfie is well-disguised, it’s obvious to people when a photo is self-taken. Selfies in itself are not an issue but the problem arises from the stigma of a selfie in a professional environment.

Besides, self-taken shots are usually or lower quality as you cannot control the amount of light, exposure, and other details that are available in professional photoshoots.

If you need to have a professional photo and all you have with you is a smartphone, let someone else take your headshot – it’ll be clearer and miles better than a front-camera photo.

2) Think of a professional and engaging headline for your profile

The headline is your byline below your profile that acts as an intro to your profession.

You want your headline to:

  • Describe what you do as quickly and as clearly as possible
  • Describe what you can do for your prospects
  • Contain keywords that are relevant to your career

LinkedIn automatically gives your profile a headline based off your current job title and employer.

For instance, if you are a consultant at John’s Law Firm, that’s what your headline literally is – “Consultant at John’s Law Firm”.

There are a few things that are not right with this approach.

First, it’s very bland and generic which means that it won’t catch your prospect’s attention. Next, it doesn’t give your prospect any relevant information about you.

What does a consultant do? What you do consult on? What is your industry?

As you can see, those questions cannot be answered with a generic and bland headline.

Of course, that doesn’t mean your headline cannot include your work place and your role. Instead, it should communicate your expertise, your field, and why you’re worth a chat with.

It should be eye-catching regardless of what your goals on LinkedIn are. Standing out is always good thing and here are a few things that you can do to achieve that.

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State what you are good at

If you are a freelance writer, a headline like “Freelance Writer” is pretty boring. Spruce it up with headlines like “Mobile Tech Freelance Writer” or a “Freelance Writer Specialising In E-Commerce”.

Maybe you’re a project manager for an e-commerce site; a headline like “E-Commerce Project Manager With 20 Years of Experience” is much more impressive than the plain old “Project Manager.”

Talk about what you do

An effective way to craft wonderful headlines to is add the results of your work. For instance, if you’re an account manager for Facebook, you’re responsible for making sure that the customer’s experience is top-notch.

Rather than having a bland headline like “Account Manager,” you should go with something like “Enhancing Customer Experience as an Account Manager at Facebook.”

You want to highlight your potential value to your prospects by incorporating how you made an impact to your current or previous organisations.

Show off a bit

If you’ve appeared in a reputable or famous source, you want to include that somewhere in your headline for a credibility boost.

If you’re a writer that’s been featured by Forbes and Inc for example, have a headline that goes something like:

“Freelance Writer Featured in Forbes and Inc Magazine”

Staying humble is good but sometimes, you have to show off a little to instill trust in your prospects. The more reputable a source is, the better the chances of you getting a warm lead from LinkedIn.

3) Include relevant work experience

This part of your profile is the part that most of your prospects will look at. You want to effectively describe what you do, describe the results that you’ve achieved, and add in keywords to make sure that your profile appears in relevant searches.

You can also make this part of your profile more appealing by embedding links or files. LinkedIn allows you to upload PDFs, images, and other files, so take advantage of this feature and showcase your work.

There’s a universal approach that’s been proven to be effective by many LinkedIn users and it’s simple:

Write a summary instead of a full-length resume for your work experience.

A lot of people think that the work section should include your full resume instead of short summaries as we suggest; that’s not right.

Here’s why:

  1. People browsing on LinkedIn are not going to look for your full resume early on. They want to check if you are the right choice for their needs and they won’t have too much time usually. This means that having a summary of your experience is faster and more efficient for the prospect to digest.
  2. People hate reading walls of text. The same advice that applies to copywriting and landing pages also applies here. Too much text is boring and scary for the vast majority of people. Keep it short and simple.

Now that we’ve got that done, follow these steps to write a wonderful summary for your job experience.

  • Get the important bullet points from your resume to LinkedIn or a word editor like WordPad.
  • Trim down your resume. You want to keep bullet points for major points and high-level details. You can also delete bullets that are not very important to your career; the simpler it is, the better.
  • Take what’s left over and craft a short paragraph to link them together.
  • Make sure that there are no typos and important keywords MUST be included in your work experience section.

Important keywords are keywords that a prospect would search for when looking for a person to solve their problems.

One great thing about LinkedIn is that recruiters often search the site to find candidates that are a good fit for their open roles.

If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t contain the keywords that a prospect is searching for, your profile will not come up in the search results.

For instance, let’s assume that you are a marketing consultant with experience in social media. However, you do not have the word “social media” anywhere in your LinkedIn profile

Someone who searches for “social media consultant” will not see your profile even though you are skilled and adept at it. Even if social media is a huge part of your job, prospects do not have any idea of it unless you explicitly wrote it down.

Add social proof and recommendations

Finally, you’d want to have some social proof on your profile.

Your LinkedIn profile has a section where colleagues or connections of yours are able to make recommendations for your skills and expertise. These are a very powerful endorsement of your work, often seen as references in advance, and so shouldn’t be overlooked.

For starters, you’d want to ask your colleagues, clients, or past employers to write recommendations and endorse you for certain skills. For the recommendations to work, however, they have to be on LinkedIn as well.

Finding clients on LinkedIn

Now that your profile is setup, it’s time for the exciting part: finding leads and potential clients on the platform.

LinkedIn’s greatest advantage is that the site itself helps you to pre-qualify prospects.

You should know that if a company or individual has a LinkedIn profile, it is very likely that they are already seeing the value of having a strong online presence which means that your services are not alien to them.

Simply put, you don’t have to worry about spending time educating these prospects about the importance of your services. Converting a prospect that you found on LinkedIn is much easier especially if you are in the digital marketing space.

To make your life easier, LinkedIn has a useful search tool that enables you to quickly find and filter results.

Here’s what you can do to take advantage of LinkedIn’s search box.

1) Choose the correct search type and keywords

First, you need to specify the type of search that you are looking for.

Most of the times, it boils down to this: are you targeting companies or individuals?

For instance, if you’re a marketing consultant that specialises in the food industry, then you’d select “Companies” and type in a relevant keyword such as “restaurant” or “café.”

Basically, you want to find prospects that are more likely to respond to your pitch.

2) Refine your results

After getting your results, LinkedIn generates a list of companies or people that matches your query. What you need to do next is to refine and narrow down your search.

LinkedIn allows you to filter the results according to location, company size, industry, and more.

There is no right way here but a good rule of thumb is to find prospects that are:

  • Easy for you to get in touch with
  • Fits in your target audience
  • Is related to your niche or industry

3) Study each prospect

Click the profiles of your prospects on the results page to see what each person or company is all about.

You want to spend some time to have a look at their posts, comments, and recommendations. If they have a website or personal blog, you will have more information in determining needs and to figure out if your business is a good fit.

You want to make sure that you really drill down their information for you to have a personalised pitch later on. Don’t skip out on research just because you don’t think it’s necessary – that’s lazy.

4) Figure out how to contact your prospects

After several rounds of research, you should have a list of prospects to contact. To do that, you have to find their contact details.

There are two ways of doing this: a) find their contact info on their website or b) reach out using LinkedIn.

The first method should be familiar to you so we’ll focus on how to connect through LinkedIn as this is a guide to the platform.

If you’re targeting individuals, you should contact them by sending an InMail, LinkedIn’s messaging platform. To do that, you’ll need to add them as a connection first so you can message them directly.

A connection request is like Facebook’s friend request. Each connection that you make is equivalent to having a friend on Facebook.

Finding the right person within a company however, needs a few additional steps. When you’re on a company page, find the “How You’re Connected” box (usually on the upper-right part of the page) and click “See all”.

This will take you to a page listing the employees of the company who are on LinkedIn. Go through the list, and find the person that is most likely to get back to you.

For instance, if you’re a marketing consultant, the best choice would be to find someone in the marketing department.

Avoid reaching out to C-level executives or higher-ups too early on; they may be busy and may ignore your message outright.

5) Get in touch with them

The number 1 secret to getting respones from your outreach efforts is personalisationThis means that you need to tailor your messages to each prospect that you contact.

This is where the research that you did in step 3 comes in play; use what you’ve learned to personalise your approach.

The key here is to provide value in your outreach messages. Give them just enough information to let them see that you know what you’re talking about, but don’t give away too much that they won’t have to pay for your services.

Sending personalised messages to each prospect takes quite a bit of time and effort, but it’s worth it. The chances of getting a warm response through personalised messages are much higher than when you’re cold-calling or cold-emailing prospects.

Attracting leads from LinkedIn

Now, while a client search is good, what’s even better is if leads came to you instead of you seeking for them.

How do you do that?

1) Make it easy for you to be found on LinkedIn

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This is covered in-depth above when we were talking about how to optimise your LinkedIn profile for success. In summary, the more optimised your profile is, the greater the chance of leads coming to you in the future.

Make sure you fill out your profile in its entirety, complete with a good profile picture, summary, and full skill set.

It also helps to include examples of your work. If you are a copywriter, include links to your past work or a portfolio website; if you are a fitness coach, include past experiences with clients you have worked with.

Once you have finished your profile, ask colleagues and past clients for recommendations. These recommendations are a form of social proof that provide your potential new clients the feedback and actions of others to determine if they want to work with you or not.

2) Join LinkedIn Groups and publish content

Once you have started reaching out to new connections and building your network, it’s time to join relevant LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are a goldmine for finding leads.

As with all kinds of marketing, before you make that sale or promote your business, make sure you engage with group members first and provide value. No one wants and likes to be spammed.

A way to provide value to the group while gaining new leads for potential new clients is to host a webinar. You can then use the relevant LinkedIn groups you joined to promote your webinar.

Make sure when you promote the webinar, include a way to gather people’s names and email addresses – you can do this by using a landing page or a simple e-mail newsletter.

The emails you have collected can then be added to your e-mail list to be used for your sales funnel to promote your services.

Remember, it’s all about you promoting your knowledge and expertise to validate your ability to be the solution to their problems.

The best way to do this on LinkedIn is to use LinkedIn’s native publishing platform. Using the LinkedIn publishing platform will allow you to reach a new audience and establish yourself as an expert in your niche.

You can also use your blog posts on LinkedIn; however, be careful NOT to duplicate the content you have on your blog to avoid taking away traffic.

Instead, post a summary or preview of the post on LinkedIn, then include a link to your blog to read more about the article which then increases traffic to your website.

Producing content to attract leads in LinkedIn

Why does giving out content work for attracting clients?

To become an authoritative figure, you must earn the time, attention and interest of the prospects on LinkedIn. Creating and sharing free, valuable content that helps a niche audience solve their problems is how you set yourself apart from the competition.

In addition, content is the most important part of today’s marketing strategy. If you want to get the time, attention and interest of your ideal prospects on LinkedIn, you must create content that will be of extremely interesting and valuable to them.

To really win their trust, you must show and demonstrate your authority. Your free content needs to show people that you are the expert and that you can help them achieve their goals and that you are worth their time, interest and attention.

Here’s how to do that.

Target the correct niche

Your LinkedIn content should be extremely focused on a niche audience. You can include their job title or industry name in the headline of your blog posts and articles to attract attention (remember the AIDA formula?).

For instance, let’s say that you are selling marketing services to small businesses. One of your target markets are home renovation and landscaping businesses.

Because of LinkedIn’s immense internal search engine and user data, you can easily find thousands of home renovating business owners to connect with and market to.

You have to remember that your clients or these renovation business owners will want to feel like you get their industry and all the unique challenges and issues they face on a daily basis.

While can do marketing services for practically anyone, you want to make sure that make it very clear on your LinkedIn profile that you specialise in helping home renovation business owners to land more clients.

That means that you want a profile that caters to renovation business owners that includes case studies and testimonials of other similar business owners who have landed new clients using your services.

Then, once you’ve begun connecting with them on LinkedIn, you want to get more of their time and attention by sharing free content, tips and examples of your videos with them.

Use attractive and compelling headlines

This is a common mistake by beginner marketers; you can have the greatest piece of content in the world, but if the headline is boring, you won’t get any clicks or views at all.

In a recent post that we’ve discussed on crafting irresistible offers, the ideal headline formula for your content should be: “Your Target Audience + Your Service + Benefits For Them“.

Here’s an example headline crafted with the above formula: “3 Ways Renovation Business Owners Can Use Twitter To Get More Clients”

Here’s a tip: Your content can be masked as a sales letter or advertisement, but it has to be informative and helpful to your target audience. The content that relates to the service must be able to achieve one of the benefits they want.

Write content that is valuable enough for your prospects to care

We’ll keep this short as there are only a few tips that you should follow to create good content.

When producing content, you have to make sure that it ticks at least one of these factors:

  • gives insight and knowledge on an idea that your prospects have never heard before
  • confirms or validates a belief your clients have but are unsure of
  • confirms your prospect’s suspicion or curiosities
  • guides them away from dangerous myths they believe

Selling through content means helping prospects believe and discover a new and useful perspective. You want to help them develop a strategy or idea that gets them what they want – more success.

Biggest mistakes in LinkedIn that you should avoid

1) Not using a picture or using a bad one

One of the biggest mistakes to do on LinkedIn is to have no profile photo. On average, it’s seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo compared to one without. People tend to assume that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.

You definitely do not want something like this (this was a controlled experiment so you don’t have to worry about us harassing this particular LinkedIn user)

Like we’ve mentioned above, your photo doesn’t have to be model-quality; instead, people are just looking for energy, which you can communicate through great posture, open eyes, and a bright smile.

2) Not using the LinkedIn connection request correctly

When you connect with someone on LinkedIn, the default message is something like “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

That sounds fine if you already know the person, but sending that generic line is a no go with leads or people you don’t already know personally.

Here’s a personalised message that works quite well with a few tweaks of your own.

Hi (name of prospect),

I came across one of your articles a while back.

(insert your short thoughts about whatever you’re mentioning about here)

I am also in the same industry as you and I’d love to have a quick chat about (insert your topic here) when you have the time. Let me know if this works.

Thanks and have a good day, (name of prospect).

(Your name)

If the other person accepts the invite but doesn’t respond (which is common), you can then follow up with a direct message.

Just note that if the majority of your connection requests get rejected, LinkedIn may limit the number of invitations you can send, so make sure you’re targeting people correctly.

3) Asking for too much

There’s nothing worse than accepting an invite and getting hit with a huge and daunting request.

When someone connects with you, don’t be that person who quickly asks for a job or launches into a sales pitch.

If you’re looking for career advice, request for a quick chat or call. If you reach out to people in a polite, kind, and respectful way, you’ll probably hear back; the opposite is true too.

No one owes you a response, so make sure you don’t come across as entitled.

Try not to think only of what connecting can do for you but also how you can add value to the other person. Regardless of where you’re at in your career, you can always find ways to help others.

4) Not following up

Don’t forget to follow up!

If someone helped you get a connection with someone or had a quick conversation with you, come back with an update. People love to hear how they’ve been helpful to you as well as knowing that you care about them enough to follow up.

Do not set a goal to rush as many follow ups as possible. You want to spend some time to understand why you’re following up and how to add even more value to the prospect.

The more rushed and desperate you are, the more likely it is for your prospect to think that you’re annoying them.

Remember, quality is more important than quantity.



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