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(and three benefits you will receive)

I have been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories since I was a teenager. In the short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia” Holmes utters one of his most famous lines to Doctor Watson, “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” And that is the way it is with most LinkedIn users. There is often substantial information right there on LinkedIn for them to use in preparing for messages, calls and meetings, but they don’t even realize it is there. 

Why do research? Three Reasons and Three benefits

I maintain that there are three core aspects to using LinkedIn for sales: search, research and outreach. Most salespeople figure out pretty quickly that you can use LinkedIn to find and identify possible prospects and that you can use LinkedIn  to reach out to them. 

But for most people research is misunderstood. They think it means looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile trying to find an opening hook, something like, “we went to the same school”, or “I see you have been an astronaut too.” 

I advocate for the benefits of more in depth research to answer three questions:

Is LinkedIn the best method for outreach to this person?

By having a look at someone’s number of connections and followers, quality of their LinkedIn profile and activity on LinkedIn, you can infer whether they use LinkedIn often. Someone who uses LinkedIn more often and “gets” using LinkedIn will be  more likely to read your outreach message. And that is all we want: an honest shot at someone reading our message. 

If I find someone interesting who obviously doesn’t use Linkedin that much or place that much emphasis on it, then I would much rather try and reach out through another method – introduction, email referral, cold call, carrier pigeon, anything. 

How can I hyper-personalize my message? 

By looking more deeply at their profile, you can gain insights into what they are working on or have worked on, and in particular what accomplishments they are proud of. This will help you really personalize your message. 

Where do we look for these clues? Everywhere. The About section, the Experience sections. Endorsements will tell you what knowledge and skills they want to emphasize. Recommendations can be a gold mine. Even which Groups they belong to can give you ideas to work with. I will talk about this in more detail in the next part.

How do I establish my credibility?

Research can help establish our credibility, something that is critical in an initial outreach message

By researching the people at the company, individual colleagues and their company page, you can get important insights into tenures, personnel changes, new people, and even hiring. You can establish your credibility in your outreach message by “knowing” about facets of a company that they would not think are that obvious. 

If we do this these things well, when the person reads our message, three things come across: 

  • We have not just sent them some cookie cutter crap with their name swapped in at the top like most people do.
  • We have really put some effort into finding out more about them and their company.
  • We really are different from everyone else out there.

Is this time consuming? Yes, but not as much as you think it would be. And with a much higher success rate, it is absolutely worth it. 

And if we really want this person to become a customer of ours, someone we want to have an ongoing successful business relationship with, why wouldn’t we invest the time to show them some respect up front? 



At Practical SMM, we pride ourselves on delivering highly effective LinkedIn strategies.