The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Prospecting in 2023

You already know that LinkedIn has the potential to be a prospecting powerhouse with its 930 million professional users. What you may not know is how to leverage the platform effectively so you get the most out of it. 

We’ll walk you through LinkedIn prospecting in 2023 and how you can use a combination of the right tools and best practices to upgrade your prospecting game. Let’s get started.

LinkedIn Prospecting: Why It Matters

Again, the amount of users on LinkedIn is massive. While this means you might be inclined to want to reach out to all of them, LinkedIn is among the best sources for professional contact information, job information, and so on. 

Even on a free account, you can take advantage of LinkedIn’s search feature to find people by where they work, their position, location, and more. This is important because you don’t want to be blasting out connection requests to everybody without a strategy. 

If you read nothing else in the rest of this piece, read this: the key to successful LinkedIn prospecting is targeting. Yes, we know that’s nothing revolutionary, but there are many more tools available nowadays compared to even a few years ago, and we’ll cover all of the best practices so you can reach your prospects.

But before we get into the tactics behind better LinkedIn prospecting, let’s talk strategy. 

The 2 Key Factors to Targeting Prospects Effectively

There are a few things we have to consider when carving out who you’d like to target in your prospecting. All things equal, the two most important questions are:

  1. Is the prospect in need or want of your product or service?
  2. Is the prospect able and willing to pay for it?

There’s no need to interact with prospects who simply have no need for your offering. So, we can start by eliminating a huge chunk of prospects right off the bat. In other words, if you’re selling to marketing managers, you shouldn’t be reaching out to the accounting or IT departments. 

The second point is more difficult to determine, but if your offering is on the more costly side, you can eliminate small businesses and focus more on bigger companies with bigger budgets. 

We get that a lot of this is basic stuff, but we point these things out to emphasize their importance. Staying focused is crucial to effective prospecting, so we don’t want to see you getting lost in too many details, which does happen to some prospectors. 

And, if you’re concerned about narrowing down your search too much, don’t worry about that just yet – the number of results you get might surprise you. More importantly, by dialing in your targeting, you’re only increasing the likelihood that your prospects will buy from you. 

Should I Use a Free or Paid Account?

What we like to say is that LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform and one of the few things worth investing in if you’re serious about prospecting. 

If you break it down in terms of what you’ll get, you can compare the monthly subscription cost to how much business you can land. For most, doing business with just one or two prospects is enough to justify the cost of premium LinkedIn accounts.

There are also ways you can take advantage of a standard account but without some of the key features that help to skyrocket your results. 

That being said, the best course of action is usually to take advantage of LinkedIn’s free trial offers. You can sign up for a premium account like Sales Navigator and try it for free for 30 days. You can cancel at any time, so if that’s your plan, set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget to cancel. 

While some of the features are limited during the free trial, you can utilize the majority of the most useful ones. As an added benefit, you can use a platform like Wiza to streamline your prospecting while using a free account – more on that later. 

How to Prospect with a Standard LinkedIn Account

Looking to keep it free to start out? That’s a solid strategy with a potentially great ROI. Let’s take a look at eight ways to use your standard account for your LinkedIn prospecting efforts. The following points will generally apply to paid accounts, as well, so don’t skip this section if you want to learn it all.

1. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

First things first. Let’s make sure your profile is in order. This is essentially your digital business card, so it’s important to get it right so you can make the right first impression. It’s worth it to spend some time working on this but not so much time that you lose sight of your goal, which is to get more prospects.

Use a high-quality photo and a catchy headline that will grab the attention of your target audience. Complete as many fields as you can, and keep in mind that you’re not writing for yourself but for your prospects. 

Stephen Hakami linkedin profile

Do your best not to get caught up in the description section – make your offering clear and give your prospect a reason to want to interact with you. Keep it as simple as you can, and refrain from being too cheeky. At the very least, keep things as professional as is appropriate for your target audience. 

If you’re unsure how the final profile looks because you feel you’re too close to it, have a friend or professional contact give it a look over. Just as long as you don’t use that as a way to procrastinate. Let’s get prospecting!

2. Leverage Basic Search Features

With a paid account, you get a lot more access when it comes to search filters and scope, but that doesn’t mean a standard account is useless. 

By using the search bar at the top of LinkedIn’s home page, you can search for “people” (as opposed to “jobs” or “companies”) according to:

  • Industry
  • Job title
  • Current company
  • Past company
  • Service category
  • Location
  • School
  • Connection degree
  • Profile language
  • Keywords

We won’t cover all of these in detail, but you can leverage each of these filters to connect with prospects that best suit your offering, as we discussed earlier. They also make a great way to start a conversation. Did you go to the same school or work at the same company at one point? We’ve found a lot of success connecting with people in a genuine way with this technique.

Linkedin search filters

Connection degree is one of the more important filters on LinkedIn because you’ll be more likely to connect with someone who’s a 1st- or 2nd-degree connection. 

3. Harness the Power of Your Network

If you’ve already been on LinkedIn for some time, you probably already have connections. If any of your connections can benefit from your product or service, feel free to let them know about it.

After all, you may have the solution to a problem they’re having right now. This is not the time for the hard sell (in fact, there is rarely a time for that, but that’s a different blog post). But you can casually introduce what you do to see if there’s any interest. If not, no worries – move on to the next 1st-degree connection.

4. Engage in LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic resource for prospecting. You can find and join some groups that your prospects are members of, whether it’s shared job functions, common interests, or industries. Reaching out to marketing managers? There are plenty of marketing groups like Digital Marketing, Marketing AI, Marketing Communication, and more. 

By actively engaging in these groups, you not only establish yourself as someone who is a thought leader, but you’re also opening up the door to interact with prospects. There’s also the added benefit of being able to send messages to prospects of a shared group.

5. Follow Relevant Companies

By following companies that align with your industry or target market, you can keep your finger on the pulse of any important updates, news, job postings, or personnel changes. All these pieces of information can provide valuable insights for your prospecting efforts.

6. Personalize Connection Requests

This is always true. When reaching out to a potential connection, always personalize your message. Always, always, always. 

Let them know why you’re interested in connecting and how it might benefit both of you. This shows that you respect their time and increases the likelihood they will accept your request. By doing this, you will stand out from the majority of people blasting out connection requests with no thought. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to sell in your connection request. As we said about filling out your profile, keep it simple and brief so you can make the connection first.

personalized linkedin connection request

7. Stay Active and Engage with Content

Consistency is key on LinkedIn, and it’s important to interact with the content in your feed. Regularly like, comment, and share posts that resonate with you. This can increase your visibility on the platform and draw potential prospects to your profile, which is always easier than active outreach. 

Also, you can regularly post your own content to showcase your industry knowledge and insights. Even if you don’t get a lot of activity on the post, your content will show up in your profile, so it still acts as a credibility booster. 

8 Use Wiza to find Contact Information That’s Verified in Real Time

Using our Wiza Chrome extension, you’ll be able to extract contact information right within a prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Simply sign up for Wiza for free, then install the Chrome extension. If you’re already visiting their profile, you can use Wiza to also grab their email address (and potentially phone number, if available) so you can reach out to them directly. Since you are working with a standard account, you won’t have InMails, so this is a great way to bypass LinkedIn’s limitations. We’ll talk more in detail about this below.

Linkedin profile

Ready to Upgrade Your Standard Account?

While you can do a lot with a standard account, upgrading to a paid account is a lot like supercharging your efforts. 

3 Different Options for Paid LinkedIn Accounts

Each of the paid options has different features going for it, which we’ll cover briefly below.

LinkedIn Premium Career

LinkedIn Premium is designed for professionals looking to advance their careers and grow their networks. It includes:

Who’s Viewed Your Profile: This feature lets you see who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days, offering insights into potential prospects or networking opportunities.

InMail Messaging: LinkedIn Premium offers a limited number of InMail messages each month, letting you reach out directly to anyone on LinkedIn, even if you’re not connected.

Online Video Courses: LinkedIn Learning is included with Premium subscriptions, offering access to thousands of courses on business, creative, and technical topics.

LinkedIn Premium is great for individual professionals, but if your goal is primarily sales or recruiting, you may find more value in LinkedIn’s specialized options, such as Sales Navigator and Recruiter.

LinkedIn Recruiter

LinkedIn Recruiter is built for HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers. It offers tools geared toward talent sourcing and recruitment:

Advanced Search Filters: LinkedIn Recruiter offers robust search filters to find the best talent based on specific recruitment needs.

Candidate Tracking: The platform allows you to manage and track candidates through the hiring process.

Recruiter InMails: This feature offers more InMails each month, allowing for extensive outreach to potential candidates.

Talent Pool Analysis: This feature gives insights into talent availability, competitive intelligence, and salary benchmarking.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is designed specifically for sales professionals. It has all the LinkedIn Premium features, with additional functionalities:

Advanced Lead and Company Search: This feature allows you to make detailed searches to find the exact prospects you’re looking for.

Lead Recommendations: Sales Navigator suggests leads based on your sales preferences.

Extended Network Access: Sales Navigator gives you visibility into the extended LinkedIn network, beyond your 1st and 2nd-degree connections.

So, which one is best for your needs? Recruiter is tailored for HR professionals and recruiters, so it’s the clear choice in that industry. LinkedIn Premium Career is usually seen as inferior to Sales Navigator. You don’t get a lot more functionality with Career over the standard account, but Sales Navigator opens up a ton of useful features. So, we’ll focus the rest of our discussion on Sales Navigator.

Linkedin sales navigator search filters

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Your Prospecting Powerhouse

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is worth every penny for outbound prospecting. It gives you access to advanced search capabilities, lead recommendations, and other features tailor-made for lead generation and sales outreach.

Let’s take a look at the three main features unique to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

1. Advanced Search

This feature allows you to narrow down your search based on various criteria such as job title, company size, industry, and even past employers. This ensures that you’re only viewing profiles that fit within your target market, saving you time and making your prospecting efforts more efficient. Below is the list of search filters with the advanced filters marked with an asterisk:

  • Company headcount*
  • Company type (public, private, non-profit, etc.)*
  • Company (Past / Current)
  • Exclude contacted leads*
  • Exclude saved leads*
  • Exclude viewed leads*
  • First name
  • Function*
  • Group membership*
  • Industry
  • Last name
  • Leads following your company*
  • Leads mentioned in the news*
  • Leads with recent job changes*
  • Leads with recent LinkedIn activity*
  • Leads with shared experiences/commonalities*
  • Location by region/state
  • Location by postal code radius*
  • Posted content keyword*
  • Profile language
  • Relationship (1st, 2nd, 3rd degree, group member)
  • School
  • Search within my accounts*
  • Seniority level*
  • TeamLink connections*
  • Title (past job title / current job title)
  • Years at current company*
  • Years in current position*
  • Years of experience*

2. InMail Messaging

This feature lets you contact prospects directly, even if you’re not connected on LinkedIn. However, keep in mind that the number of InMail messages you can send each month is limited based on your subscription level. This is a great way to reach out to prospects because it’s direct, personalized, and generally warrants higher response rates than emails might, for example. You also get insights into analytics so you can keep track of how effective your InMails are.

3. Lead and Account Lists

This is a valuable feature for organizing and managing your prospects. You can save leads and accounts (companies) to lists and set up alerts to receive updates on these profiles, helping you to stay informed and engaged with your prospects.

But the best thing you can do with your lead and account lists isn’t something that’s built into LinkedIn. 

Easily Export Your Lead & Account Lists with Wiza

As effective as Sales Navigator is, pairing it with Wiza takes your LinkedIn prospecting to the next level. You see, LinkedIn does not give you the option to export your lead and account lists. While it would be great if there were an “export list” button, no option is currently built into the platform. However, we have the solution.

Wiza is a Chrome extension that seamlessly integrates with Sales Navigator, transforming it from a great tool into a powerhouse. Simply build your account list, search by “custom list,” and then you’re a few clicks away from exporting it to a CSV or directly to your CRM of choice. All you need to do is sign up for your free Wiza account and install the Chrome extension. 

In fact, if you sign up today, you can claim 20 free email credits and 5 free phone credits. Wiza can be used on a profile-by-profile basis with a standard account or with Sales Navigator lists. To use it with a free account, once you’ve signed up and installed the Chrome extension, navigate to a profile, then click “reveal info” either in the sidebar or directly in their profile.

Other than ease of use, why choose Wiza? Wiza offers real-time contact data verification with the best, ethically-sourced data on the market. This means that you’ll be able to know right away if an email address is live and active, saving you time, money, and your domain reputation. 

Conclusion: Master LinkedIn Prospecting in 2023

LinkedIn prospecting is a powerful strategy for lead generation and sales outreach. With the right tools, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Wiza, you can streamline your prospecting efforts, find high-quality leads, and connect with them effectively.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to prospect on LinkedIn. If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out – we are always happy to help when it comes to navigating the LinkedIn landscape so you can prospect better and get better results.

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