Getting An Unfair Advantage Using Prospect Research On LinkedIn

With a little research, obstacles like this disappear.


I wanted to talk today about what I do to prepare for calls…and especially how I use LinkedIn as a key part of that preparation.

As I write this, it’s very early on a Monday morning. I have two people to follow up with today who want to talk with me about my services.

The first case is a previous client I have worked with sporadically in the past. It would be easy for me to just assume he wants to hire me again, call him up and just wing it.

But…something has changed and he thinks he needs my help now so I am going to research him all over again. This involves the following:

  • I will go back over my notes from a couple years ago, see what his problem was, and see what we worked on together.
  • I will check his website, and in his case his blog, to see if there have been changes in his business or his services.
  • I will check his LinkedIn company page to see how it matches up with his website and to review all his recent activity.
  • I will check his LinkedIn profile to see what changes he has made in the past couple years since we last talked. A lot can change in that amount of time. Aside from the obvious current experience section, I will also look for new recommendations, what his skills reflect, the companies and people he is following and the groups he belongs to. All these are things I can do very quickly, but this info can also give me clues as to where he is right now.
  • Lastly, I will check his recent activity (if he has any) on LinkedIn. Is he posting? How often? What topics? Is he interacting with other people’s or company’s posts?

Best case scenario, I can figure out what his likely problems are, or may be, and I can prepare for him. Worst case scenario, I find a couple things to talk about with him.

This will take me fifteen or twenty minutes and it is time well invested for three reasons:

  1. It refreshes my knowledge of him, and the work we have done previously.
  2. It prepares me for what I might suggest to him. I may have ideas prompted by my research.
  3. And perhaps most importantly, it will show him the respect I have for him in preparing in this manner.

That fifteen or twenty minutes makes all the difference in tilting the playing field in my favour. Having the facts and a lot of ideas at my fingertips going into my discussion with him gives me a huge advantage in coming across as a credible resource who respects his time, takes an interest in what he is doing and wants to help him.

So that’s the prep for an individual. But what about a company? The morning I wrote this, one of my connections sent a message asking if he could share my contact info with his VP of Sales, so the VP could set up a call to discuss what I might be able to do to help them. (I would like to build the suspense here, but I must confess I am going to answer “yes”.)

  • I get calls like this from time to time, but even with this looking like a pretty good situation (after all they are initiating contact and asking to speak with me instead of the other way ‘round), I am going to research the heck out of that company. I will do all of the things I did with respect to my occasional client I discussed above, but will add four more pieces of research.

Here are the additional things I will look at:

  • I will see if they are active as a company on any other social media and if they are, how they are using those networks.
  • I will review the sales and marketing employees LinkedIn profiles, asking myself the critical question, “do they get LinkedIn?”
  • I will look for active users in other parts of the company. I will often find people who are active LinkedIn users where you normally wouldn’t expect them. (If you would like to see a great example of this yourself, go to LinkedIn and look up thom h. boehm who works for a company called Stanfield’s. Thom publishes posts on LinkedIn about his work maintaining knitting machines at the Stanfield’s underwear factory. He has over two thousand followers who love reading his posts. I am one of them.)
  • Lastly I will look to see if I have any connections who might know people at this company. I look to see if there are any company employees with a “2nd” beside their name.

Do I get push back from people about the amount of research I recommend? All the time. But say you were to land a new client this month. What would the value of that satisfied client be over the next five years? The truth is, putting an hour or two into this type of research pays. And a lot of that research comes courtesy of LinkedIn.