Best Uses Of LinkedIn & Priorities For Salespeople 

(there’s a “path” metaphor in here somewhere…)

This goes for all of you that work for yourselves too. My recommendations here play into how LinkedIn works, and how most people use it. These are my recommended uses and priorities:

1) Prospecting identification and research

2) Building credibility

3) Outreach

4) Building reach

In that order. Let’s talk about the relative merits of each of these.


LinkedIn is built for prospecting. You can find other databases with names and positions, and sometimes they come with email addresses and phone numbers too. But there are two big advantages to using LinkedIn for prospecting and these are accuracy and context. Most of the pay-for databases that you can access on the web are built through a combination of internet scraping and user community input. They are also kept up that way. So these databases are really only as good as the user input. I place a lot more trust in LinkedIn where the info on a Marketing Vice President is not provided by a user community but by the actual Marketing Vice President. 

Now if you want to go to one of those databases for emails and phone numbers that’s your prerogative, but don’t use those databases for background research, use LinkedIn. And that brings up my second point and that is context. I use LinkedIn to pour over profiles. They give me clues as to a person’s specific responsibilities, their career path and any number of hooks that can help me start a conversation with this person. 

I also think that while prospect identification – i.e. LinkedIn search – is something that everyone recognizes LinkedIn for, prospect research is a vastly underutilized aspect of LinkedIn. But it’s right there, and it’s free. If everyone used LinkedIn for research, and that research informed their outreach methods, I may not rank prospecting number one. The fact that most people don’t use LinkedIn this way is a huge advantage to those of us who do.

Building Credibility

Call it credibility, thought leadership, or whatever you want, but LinkedIn is great for this. The odd thing is that when most people publish content on LinkedIn, they are thinking of two possible results: We will make new people aware of us, and maybe we will get some sales leads. Because of the way content is distributed on LinkedIn, both of these ideas are pretty weak. Thinking of LinkedIn for credibility on the other hand, is pretty strong. 

When you publish content on LinkedIn, it’s up to LinkedIn’s algos who sees it and how many of them do so. Unless you paid for your content to go to certain people, you’re leaving it up to LinkedIn, and LinkedIn doesn’t know who your prospective customers are. 

However, if you publish articles, LinkedIn newsletters, or feature content on your LinkedIn profile, it stays there and is accessible to anyone who views your profile, or searches for content on the topics you wrote about. I still have people come to me after having read articles I published on LinkedIn six years ago. 

Writing about and answering the questions your prospects have, and doing so in formats that can attach those writings to your profile, is a powerful way to build credibility. The way I like to put this to my customers is that they want to put the information on LinkedIn and build their credibility so that their prospects will want to consider them as one of their finalists for a product or service. 


While most people consider outreach part of prospecting, outreach is such an odd duck on LinkedIn that I like to keep it separate. As with credibility, being good at outreach on LinkedIn begins with understanding LinkedIn. In the case of outreach, it’s not so much a case of how LinkedIn works, but how LinkedIn users behave. And the brutal truth is most LinkedIn users don’t really use it that much at all. 

Less than half of LinkedIn users will login in the next thirty days. Maybe fifteen percent will login sometime in the next week. And when those occasional users login and see they have two hundred messages waiting for them, what do you think they do? Lots of deleting.

This is why I suggest to my customers that unless they can identify that someone is an active LinkedIn user (and yes, you can do this) that they use email as their primary outreach tool….or the phone, or Twitter, or anything but LinkedIn. 

Let me put it another way: the next time the average user will login to LinkedIn is Thanksgiving. The next time they will login to their email is what? Sometime later today? Which means do you think will be more effective? 

Building Reach

Reach comes last, because unless you are paying for it, you have very little control over who sees your content. Once again this comes down to the way LinkedIn works, in this case the algorithms. When you publish content on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will put it in front of a smattering of your connections. If they engage with your content, then some of their connections will have the opportunity to see it and engage with it. For the most part your increased reach will come from your connections’ connections. So the quality of your increased reach will vary with the quality of your connections  network, from your perspective. 

If you are the type of person where your product or service can be used by just about everybody – say you have a business selling printer ink or website services – then indiscriminate reach is okay. But for most of us, it’s not. 

A few weeks ago, I was recommended in a LinkedIn post by one of my connections. Over the next two days I received about sixty connection requests from people who read his post. I think two or three may be possible customers down the line. So is my reach better by sixty…or three? 


In closing today, I want to leave you with two thoughts. To use LinkedIn effectively, you need to think through two things: how LinkedIn works, and how people work LinkedIn. If you give these a bit of thought before you act, you will both save yourself time and you will actually get better results from that lower amount of time you need to put in.