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How to Use LinkedIn For Economic Development Prospecting

LinkedIn is perfect for economic development, because ED is just really, really long sales-cycle B2B marketing and sales.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
3 min read
How to Use LinkedIn For Economic Development Prospecting

A reader asked:

Has anyone successfully used LinkedIn to target corporate decision makers? If so, how?

According to the LinkedIn Social Selling Dashboard I'm ranked in the top 1% of all "Government Administration" professionals on LinkedIn for social selling, so I guess I'm qualified to answer this question.

You can check your own score here: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi

So how do I use it?  First, LinkedIn is for selling, not for marketing.  LinkedIn is an outbound selling tool and not an inbound marketing tool.

Which is good, because economic development is just really, really long sales-cycle B2B marketing and sales.

LinkedIn is basically a cold call.

While most people know that LinkedIn is a great way to find a job, once you have a job, you have to think completely differently about how you use it.

Step 1.  Redo your profile.  Change it from being about you to being about what you can do for your prospects.

Step 2. Upgrade to Premium LinkedIn.  Pay for it.  Totally worth it for the option to do much, better searches, ore InMail credits (do you get any with LinkedIn free anymore?), finding out who's viewed your profile, etc.

Step 3.  Join Useful groups.  Not economic development groups.  Not professional development groups.  Join groups that your target prospects would join.  Participate as helpfully as you can in their groups.  Create and share content tangentially related to you and your community, and relevant to the prospect.

Step 4.  Use the upgraded search of Premium LinkedIn and find some prospects.  "CXO and owners, in your target industry, in your target locations" is a pretty basic search criteria that I use to some success.

Send each of the prospects you find a connection request.  Even if you don't know them!  Especially if you don't know them.

In the connection request include a message that kind of explains what you do.  I say something like "Hi John - I help companies profit by relocating or expanding into Galveston County - the Bay Area of Houston, Texas.  I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn in case I may be of some assistance. Hope I can help!  - Dane"

I send hundreds of these kinds of messages per day.  At first, 99.9% are ignored.  Especially when I'm targeting a new industry and I don't have other contacts in that niche.  At first, 99.99% of people will ignore your requests.  But then, someone who likes to be friends with everyone will accept.  Bingo.

I call these people super-connectors.  It doesn't matter who they are, how important they are, or anything else.  All that matters is that they accept your request.  Because once they accept your connection request, you're now probably a 2nd or 3rd-degree connection to everyone you want to connect with.  And almost immediately, other prospects will start to accept your connection requests.

Step 5.  People respond to my connection requests one of three ways.  Most accept and then don't say anything.  Some say something like "we're not interested in expanding or moving right now,"  and a few launch into some kind conversation.  Your job is to start talking.  It's a sales call and they've not hung up on you immediately.  Even if they haven't said anything yet.  So start talking.  Ask questions.  Qualify.  Figure out who else you should talk to.  Offer them something of some "value" for free.  Basic B2B selling.

Step 6.  On most LinkedIn pages, it recommends other people to look at.  Click on them.  If they have a premium account too, they'll be able to see that you looked at their profile.  Everyone clicks on the profiles of everyone who looks at their page.  It is just human nature.  Start the process on step 5 for people who've looked at your profile.  Connect with them and just start the questions.


Here's another easy bonus trick:

If someone is a Premium LinkedIn user, when you visit their profile page, LinkedIn notifies them.  Most people are most interested in themselves, and if you're interested in them too, they'll be mildly interested in you, and why you're interested in them.

So...  while logged on, visit as many LinkedIn profiles as you possibly can manage every day.  A decent number will also click over to find out about you.  Once they do, send them a connection request that starts begins like "I saw that you viewed my profile..."

How To

Dane Carlson

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas. Previously: World's first business blogger.