Becky Livingston
Using LinkedIn for prospecting

The social network provides an easy way for CPAs to find potential clients in targeted industries and locations.

May 19, 2014
By Becky Livingston

LinkedIn, the business-related social media platform, offers more than just the ability to connect with people and to grow your network. It also gives members a way to create a prospecting list—which is a great business development tool for a networking site with 240 million users in more than 200 countries.

How to begin
Note: You must have a LinkedIn profile before you can create a saved search.

  • Log in to your LinkedIn profile.
  • From the top, center of the screen, click the “Advanced” link located next to the search box.
  • Fill out the search criteria form with as many details as you seek. Keep in mind that groups are often a great resource for prospecting. So be sure to keep that “Relationship” checked.
  • Click the search box. Once the list is created, review it to see if it contains the prospects you seek. If not, modify the search criteria. Consider fewer or more criteria, depending on your need.
  • If the search meets your needs, look in the top, right corner and click “Save search.” Title the saved search, and choose how often you want LinkedIn to refresh the search—weekly or monthly.

Note: LinkedIn automatically updates the saved search alerting you to new additions to the list and sends an email to the address associated with the LinkedIn profile.

The number of results you receive will vary depending on how many connections you have, the number of groups of which you’re a member, and the breadth of your search criteria. It is also influenced by the version of LinkedIn you are using—i.e., whether it’s the free version or the premium offering.

While the free LinkedIn version allows for only three saved searches, you can delete them and add new ones when needed. LinkedIn’s premium, paid feature allows for more search criteria and functionality, saved search results, and information about those on the results list.

Let’s see how this works. Let’s say you work for a Denver-based CPA firm and you want to find out more information about local business owners who fit your ideal customer profile. You specialize in accounting and auditing for small to medium-size construction companies. Your goal is to find potential new prospects within a 100-mile radius of the Denver area. When completing the search criteria, include the following:

  • Keyword: Construction.
  • Title: Use various titles, such as “CEO,” “Owner,” “President,” “Partner,” etc. You may want to save each one separately.
  • Location: “Located in or near.”
  • Country: “United States.”
  • Postal Code: 80111 within a 100-mile radius.
  • Relationship: 1st, 2nd, and Group Members (this will provide a preliminary list from your existing connections).

Now what?
Now that you have the prospecting list, take time to review the profiles. Determine who would be in the first wave of contacts, the second wave, and so forth. There may be some people on the list who are one connection away from you, allowing for a network introduction or In-Mail message, if you have the premium service.

If you are serious about prospecting and want a tool to help you locate professionals in an industry or by title and location, consider LinkedIn. Try the free version first to see if you’re getting what you need. If not, consider a subscription to a more advanced, premium service. 

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Editor’s note: This column was originally published in the March 2014 CPA Client Bulletin Select subscriber resource guide.

Speaker, author, and trainer Becky Livingston is a social media and digital marketing consultant to CPA firms.