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Social Selling on LinkedIn: The Ultimate Guide

LinkedIn is one of — if not the — most effective social networks for selling.

While Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are valuable tools to learn more about your prospect’s interests and personality, warm them up before you reach out, and build your subject matter expertise, LinkedIn is typically the only platform that directly leads to new business.

You might connect with a prospect on Thursday, book them for a call the following Tuesday, give them a demo that Friday, and close before the weekend.

But you won’t get those results without a stellar LinkedIn social selling strategy. So without further ado, let’s discuss:

Download 37 Tips for Social Selling on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Profile Tips for Salespeople

Because you’re in sales, you’re targeting a completely different audience than most professionals. You want to appeal to prospects, not hiring managers and recruiters.

That means your profile shouldn’t show off how great you are at selling. Do you think customers care you went to President’s Club or broke the team record for upsell revenue?

Not in the slightest. In fact, these details only remind them you’re a sales rep — which makes them suspicious about your motives.

So what do they care about? One thing: How you helped customers similar to them.

LinkedIn Headline

There’s a simple formula for creating a memorable, eye-catching LinkedIn headline:

“[Title], helping [prospects] do X.”

For instance, you might use “BDR, helping SMBs adopt inbound marketing,” or “Salesperson, helping fitness studios go digital.”

LinkedIn Summary

Your summary should be one paragraph — two at the max. Prospects are usually skimming your profile, so anything longer won’t be read.

Describe your role, your unique value proposition, and why you’re passionate about the job. And don’t be afraid to give your summary a little personality. You want readers to feel like they know you already.

Here’s a sample summary:

“As a senior account executive for Briton Foods, I get to work with corporations to reinvent their food and beverage programs and make them healthier, tastier, and cost-effective. I studied nutrition in college and am passionate about healthy food. But I’ll be real, I eat almost as much chocolate as quinoa. Connect with me to learn how your company can start offering nutritious and delicious food to your employees.”

LinkedIn Role Descriptions

Under your current position, you might write:

  • Work with businesses in X, Y, and Z industries to reduce manufacturing defects by 3% on average
  • Help customers reduce costs by $500,000
  • Achieve 100% passing rate for safety standards for customers

These accomplishments tell a potential buyer, “I can have a positive impact on your business.” Once they believe that, they’ll almost always accept your connection request, respond to your InMail, or agree to a call.

LinkedIn Profile Picture

According to LinkedIn’s data, simply having a picture — any picture — makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed.

Which makes sense. If you’re represented by a generic icon, you look like a spammer.

But not all photos are created equal. Yours should represent you in the best light possible, meaning it looks like you, focuses on your face, has good lighting, and doesn’t have a distracting background.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer to take a headshot, if you can afford it. Although you’ll need to spend a few hundred dollars upfront, you’ll be rewarded by better responses from prospects.

Alternatively, call in a favor with someone who’s good with a camera.

Once you’ve chosen a final contender, ask your manager, peers, and trusted friends to look at your profile picture and tell you what impression they get. Do you seem friendly and open? Or unprofessional and inexperienced? Getting feedback from several sources will reveal if your picture is helping you or hurting you.

Final Tips

The more fleshed out your profile is, the more credible and legitimate you’ll seem. Add your Twitter, Facebook, and (if you use them professionally), Snapchat and Instagram profiles. Your email and phone number should be visible as well, along with your company website.

How to Prospect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a lead generation goldmine. There are several strategies for finding prospects. Let’s discuss each, ranked from most common to least.


Thanks to LinkedIn’s vast user base, the ability to see mutual connections, and wide variety of filters, search is the most powerful and well-known way to identify potential customers.

If you have a free version, you can look for prospects with the following qualifiers:

Using LinkedIn free search
It’s worth investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator if you’ll be doing a fair amount of prospecting on the platform. Not only can LinkedIn Sales Navigator users run very specific searches, they can also save leads and accounts to the HubSpot CRM with a single click.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator filters

“People Also Viewed” Sidebar

Once you’ve found a prospect, navigate to their profile and find the “People Also Viewed” box in the right-hand column of their profile. As they say, “The friend of my prospect is another prospect.”

Your Customers’ Connections

Looking for referrals? After you’ve closed a deal, look out for status updates and posts from the customer stakeholders — especially your champion. When other LinkedIn users comment or like their content, investigate them to see if they’re a qualified prospect. Then ask your current customer for an introduction or simply contact them directly (don’t forget to mention your mutual connection).

Lead Builder

LinkedIn Sales Navigator users can take advantage of Lead Builder, a powerful feature that lets you “save” prospects as leads. Their updates and posts will appear directly on your homepage — so you can warm them up with comments and likes and find a relevant, timely reason to reach out.

Saved Search

Let’s say your ideal customer is a product marketer at a medium-size consumer goods company in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than periodically running a search for that type of prospect, set up a saved search. Every day, week, or month (depending on your preference), LinkedIn will send you an email alert with new search results. Essentially, you’re getting a steady stream of pre-qualified prospects right in your inbox.

Job Alerts

Every job change is a potential opportunity. Perhaps a current customer is transitioning to a different company — they’ll probably be eager to implement a tool they already know. Or maybe your champion just made a lateral move. Could their new department benefit from your product like their old one did?

To see when people in your network have been promoted, changed jobs, or moved to a new company, periodically scroll through your Notifications section.

LinkedIn Pulse

To reach hundreds and potentially thousands of prospects, publish a LinkedIn Pulse post with advice or insights on a common pain point your customers face. Tag several coworkers, business acquaintances, and/or customers in the comments to encourage some debate and make the post more visible.

Then wait for prospects to begin commenting. Since you’re discussing an issue that directly concerns them, there’s a good chance most of the participants will have a need for your product.

How to Research on LinkedIn

Your prospect’s LinkedIn profile tells you basic but essential facts like their title and company, primary responsibilities, job tenure, location, and industry.

It may also give you insight into their personality, interests, and preferred communication style. After skimming their summary and recommendations, try to gauge their character. How do others describe them? How do they describe themselves?

Take a look at HubSpot director Dan Tyre’s recommendations:


Terms like “enthusiastic,” “high energy,” and “passionate” come up again and again. A rep selling to Tyre should strive to match his ebullience and optimism.

You should also review the highlights and activity sections of your prospect’s profile.

Highlights shows you any existing mutual connections and employment overlap. This is valuable fodder for building rapport; in your outreach email or InMail, you can mention something along the lines of, “I see you also did a stint at Dunder Mifflin,” or “I’m a friend of Pam Halpert’s.”

Articles & Activity shows your prospect’s content in chronological order. You can see which posts they’ve liked, commented on, and/or published themselves.

If they haven’t written any articles, this section will be titled “Activity.”

This sections gives you a feel for their personal and professional interests. Did they comment on a thought leadership piece about nutrition in the workplace? That could be a great jumping off point for your first conversation. Did they like an excerpt from a book about leadership? Ask them for reading recommendations in your email.

Finally, check out the Interests section. The companies, groups, influencers, and schools they follow or belong to will show up here. Get a quick overview of their role models, professional communities, and more.

How to Sell on LinkedIn

Now that your profile is up to par and you know how to look up and connect with leads on LinkedIn, let’s discuss how to use the platform to land the sale.

1. Share valuable content.

First and foremost, you should be sharing valuable, engaging content that is relevant to your ideal customer.

You can share original content created by you and your company, relevant insights from thought leaders in your ideal customer’s industry, or a combination of both. Your goal should be to share information that speaks to the main challenge or problem your prospects are looking to overcome.

When your ideal customers or prospects see content that feels relevant to their predicament, they may feel more inclined to engage, and it helps build trust and rapport with you and your company priming your contacts for the sale.

2. Join LinkedIn groups that serve your target audience.

In 2019, there were over 2 million active groups on LinkedIn. By joining LinkedIn groups, you can expand your potential reach and LinkedIn network, making it possible for those in the group to connect with you and view your profile even if you don’t have any mutual connections.

Within groups, you can use search functionality to filter members by job title, geographic location, and industry, making it easier to find your ideal customers.

Don’t limit yourself by only joining groups relevant to your industry. Seek out groups that your ideal customers belong to and be an active, engaged member of the groups you join.

3. Personalize connection requests.

When sending connection requests to prospects or individuals you don’t know personally, including a personalized message is critical. By sending a personalized request you provide necessary context telling this individual why they should add you to their network, and it can help you stand out in a sea of generic requests.

To add a personalized note, make sure you click the “Add a Note” button when prompted before sending your connection request.

Adding a personalized note to your LinkedIn requestThe note doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed, but it should provide some context for your connection. Here’s an example:

LinkedIn personal message exampleIf you’re feeling stuck, here are some points you could choose to include:

  • A personalized greeting using their name.
  • Mutual connections (if applicable).
  • Mutual groups (if applicable).
  • A piece of content they engaged with.
  • Experience on their profile that stuck out to you.

4. Facilitate meaningful conversations.

Once you connect with a prospect on LinkedIn, keep the conversation going. While it may not be ideal to go in for the sale right away, you’ll want to stay in touch so you remain on their radar. The personalized message you sent when making your connection request can serve as a good conversation starter.

You can also keep the conversation going by engaging with their posts, and sharing content they may be interested in with them.

5. Take conversations offline.

After spending some time building rapport, don’t be afraid to take the conversation offline. When you feel the prospect is ready to begin having more serious sales conversations, offer to set up a phone call or meeting time to learn more about their concerns and offer solutions on behalf of your company.

How to Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

A personal brand is the reputation you’re known by. It can usually be summarized in three to eight words. Jeff Bezos’s personal brand, for example, might be “driven, passionate, hyper-intelligent, and business-minded.” Tina Fey’s could be “funny, strong, self-deprecating, quirky, and brave.”

Your personal brand isn’t necessarily positive. If you’re overly pushy with prospects, “aggressive” will become part of your brand. If you’re manipulative or dishonest, “untrustworthy” will define you.

Luckily, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for intentionally shaping and promoting an appealing personal brand.

First, identify the adjectives you want prospects and customers to know you for. These should be realistic but slightly aspirational. To give you an idea, you might pick “event marketing expert” even if you’re still building your event marketing knowledge.

Then, figure out what content you can create that will showcase those traits.

Here are the main areas of your profile that will reflect your personal brand:

  1. Your summary
  2. The recommendations you’ve received
  3. Your posts

Try to create “themes” that run throughout your profile. To illustrate, you might mention your passion and expertise for events marketing in your summary. Then, you’d ask a coworker to recommend you and mention how valuable your events marketing strategy advice is to customers. You’d also write a few posts about events marketing — how to get started, best practices, and so on.

Now, when a prospect looks at your profile, they’ll quickly see you’re well-versed in event marketing. You’ll gain instant credibility.

LinkedIn FAQ

  1. What’s included in LinkedIn Basic?
  2. What’s included in Sales Navigator Professional?
  3. What’s included in Sales Navigator Team?
  4. What’s included in Sales Navigator Enterprise?
  5. How to avoid LinkedIn’s commercial use limit

Use LinkedIn the right way, and it can be one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal. So what are you waiting for? Flesh out your strategy, optimize your profile, and start connecting with buyers.

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