LinkedIn – A Powerful Client Research Tool

[by Jim Cavanaugh]

LinkedIn has become my most important tool for identifying new clients. While not as popular or user friendly as facebook, LinkedIn has a different culture and is much more about business.

Every time I have a new person “link in” with me in LinkedIn, I will add their e-mail address to my Constant Contact mail list. I will also add the person and their company information to my database. I look up and bookmark their company website and review it to learn more about their company and how they use photography to tell their story. All of this information is available on their profile page.

I will also send them a brief introductory letter thanking them for adding me to their LinkedIn network and telling them a little about my company.  Along with the letter, I include a mini portfolio of five (5) 6”x9” promo cards. This is followed up a few days later with a phone call to introduce myself and learn more about them. The end goal is a portfolio presentation.

But the real power of LinkedIn is that as you add each new person into your network, you can also research each of their contacts. Unless they have a privacy setting enabled to prevent this, you can view each of the people in their network.  (I find this privacy setting is rarely used.)

On average, I have about twenty-five to thirty-five new contacts link in with me each week. One evening a week I review all of their contacts. This can be well over a thousand names. I will generally invite about a hundred new people to link in with me each week from these lists. These people are in companies I want to work with and in positions to be a decision maker about hiring a photographer. I am selective as to who I invite.

LinkedIn also suggests people you may want to add to your network based upon “shared connections”. This can also be an effective tool for expanding your network.

Your contacts are also adding people to their network on a regular basis. The update feed on your home page will list all of you contacts new connections in real time. I check this every day so I don’t have to revisit current contact’s full lists.

This powerful social networking tool has allowed me to add close to 500 new contacts in the last three months!