LinkedIn is the best social media platform for sales prospecting, and it has millions of decision-makers at companies in every industry on there using it regularly.

When you identify them, you can either reach out via a personalized InMail or find your potential customer's email address and send a cold email. All in all, it's an excellent channel for growing companies and agencies to find new potential clients.

But where do you start?

In this guide, we'll show you everything you need to know to get started with LinkedIn prospecting. We’ll cover: 

Ready? Let's dive in.

What Is LinkedIn Prospecting?

LinkedIn prospecting is the process of identifying and reaching out to people matching your ideal customer on LinkedIn.

It's a cold outreach strategy used by lead generation agencies and fast-growing companies that need to fill their sales pipeline with high-quality leads.

As well as that, over 76% of buyers say that they're happy to have a conversation with sellers on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

If you want to connect with potential prospects, it's an excellent channel.

4 Ways to Find Prospects on LinkedIn

Do you want to improve your prospecting process but don't know where to start?

LinkedIn is a great place to leverage mutual connections and find potential buyers to move them through the sales process.

Find out more about how to increase your prospecting efforts on LinkedIn below.

1. Find Qualified Prospects with Sales Navigator Search

The first way to identify your prospects is by using a Sales Navigator search. Sales Navigator includes an extensive list of search filters you can use to narrow down your search results.

Source: LinkedIn

When you find a potential lead, Sales Navigator lets you save their profile to a prospect list, which is ideal if you're segmenting prospects to use in different outreach campaigns.

If a search delivers the result you were looking for, you can save your search criteria to use again in the future.

2. Use Third-Party Prospecting Tools and Cross-Reference Them to LinkedIn

There are powerful tools to help you identify LinkedIn profiles for decision-makers at scale.

For example, B2B data providers like ZoomInfo and Lead411 let you find prospects based on:

  • Company industry

  • Company size based on employee count or revenue

  • Location

  • And more

These tools will then give you a list of target prospects that match your criteria.

As well as getting an email address, phone number, job title, and other relevant details about their role within their company, you'll also get a verified LinkedIn profile for each decision-maker.

Source: Lead411

You can then go through your list, and, using one of the many LinkedIn automation tools on the market, automatically connect with those decision-makers, or send them a personalized InMail.

3. Search for Relevant Groups

LinkedIn groups are places your ideal prospects go to share relevant content and ideas with others in their industry or niche.

You can find groups relevant to your lead generation campaigns and outreach efforts, and identify members who would be a great fit for your outreach.

For example, if you were targeting prospects working on social media strategy for B2B companies, you could run a search for people in groups related to B2B social media.


You can then go into these groups and use the member list to identify the best prospects for your next campaign.

Some LinkedIn groups are quiet, but the people in the member list will generally still be relevant to your prospecting, as when they joined, the group may have been active.

Another benefit of sourcing prospects from groups is that those people are likely to be more active on LinkedIn, as they’re going out of their way to network on the platform and engage in communities on the platform.

4. Use a Linked Boolean Search on Google

If you don’t have access to Sales Navigator, you can also find LinkedIn profiles using a Google search.

The key is to use boolean operators to ensure Google only shows you profiles that closely match your target audience and ideal customer profile.

Boolean operators narrow down the Google Search results to pages that only contain the keywords you use.

For example, the search below will only return results from LinkedIn for pages that contain both the words “Chief Marketing Officer” and “San Francisco.”

You’ll then see your prospect results in Google:

Boolean search means you take advantage of more powerful filtering without being limited by LinkedIn’s own search algorithm.

6 LinkedIn Prospecting Tips and Best Practices

LinkedIn can be great for not only prospecting qualified lead lists and target companies but also building professional relationships.

Your sales reps can use the information gained to craft personalized emails for effective outreach. Learn six LinkedIn prospecting tips, including key features offered by QuickMail.

1. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Improve and Protect Your Account

The first step that anyone running prospecting campaigns on LinkedIn needs to take is to upgrade to a Sales Navigator account.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is LinkedIn's premium plan.  It gives you access to more features on the platform to streamline your sales strategy and prospecting workflow, including a vastly improved LinkedIn search experience.

You can tap into a wide variety of search filters to improve your ability to identify high-quality prospects that fit either your or your client's buyer persona. 

You can build lead lists and know that everyone included matches every criterion you need them to.

As well as being useful for creating your prospect lists, having a Sales Navigator plan protects your account from being flagged for suspicious activity. LinkedIn doesn't want people using bots or scripts on the platform, and if you run any type of automation without Sales Navigator, there's a high risk that your account gets flagged and restricted. However, if you're on a paid Sales Navigator plan, there's a smaller chance of this happening.

It's important to note that this isn't a foolproof solution. If you're using a script or advanced tools to reach out to thousands of prospects daily and send automated messages, there's still a risk of your account being restricted even if you're on the most expensive Sales Navigator plan.

2. Optimize Your Profile for a Stellar First Impression

When you’re running LinkedIn prospecting and outreach campaigns, there’s a strong chance someone will visit your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you.


They want to see that you're someone they can trust and if you have a product or service, they'd be interested in before replying.

Some of the main steps you need to take are to:

Step 1. Optimize your profile picture and cover image

You’ll want a clear profile picture. It doesn’t need to be anything unique or creative – as long as it shows you’re a real person, that’s all that matters to your prospects.

You can use your cover photo to give people an idea of what you can help with.

Step 2. Explain what you do in your About section

It's also important to fill out your About section as first impressions matter. This will give your prospects and future business contacts valuable insights into what you do and how you can help them.

For example, the CEO of Drift, David Cancel, has a simple but effective About section that adds social proof.

If you don't want to use a descriptive About section, you can make it a benefits-driven section highlighting the problems that you help business owners solve. For example, a sentence explaining how your lead generation agency helps software companies generate leads will instantly resonate with people in your ideal audience.

Step 3. Regularly share content

LinkedIn is a social media platform, and the algorithm is designed to increase engagement for people who are active on the platform.

To improve your profile visibility, as well as boost social proof via engagement, you need to share useful and insightful content on LinkedIn daily.

This could be in the form of sharing articles or videos on your industry you found interesting or creating your own content.

You don't need to have thousands of comments and reactions on your content, but showing that you're actively contributing to your industry will increase the trust your prospects and business connections have in you and show them you're an expert at what you do.

Step 4. Ask for recommendations

There's no better social proof than a testimonial or case study. Ask your past clients or coworkers to leave you an endorsement on your profile, as it signals to prospects that you're someone they can trust.

Your recommendations can be as simple as a client saying: “We enjoyed working with [name] and their agency and can highly recommend them. They helped us generate [number] of leads per month, which was double what we were able to do in-house.”

When your prospects visit your profile and see those reviews from real people you’ve worked with, their trust in you will increase right away.

With all of these steps in place, your LinkedIn profile will offer an excellent first impression to prospects visiting it, increasing your chances of a reply when you reach out.

3. Personalized Outreach Can Help You Stand Out

When you’re running outbound sales campaigns on LinkedIn, it’s easy to cut corners. One of the first corners that most of your competition will cut is personalization – which is why cold outreach has a bad reputation in some people’s minds. Most companies will send generic messages to their current connections as a sales pitch without personalization.

If you personalize your outreach messages and prove you care about the individual prospect, you’ll stand out in your prospect’s LinkedIn inbox.

First, you’ll need to do the basics of personalization. That means:

  • Always address a prospect using their first name

  • Reference their company name

  • Have an offer that’s truly relevant to them

However, these are just the basics.

A prospecting message that will stand out needs to go further.

You need to mention something specific to their company. For example:

  • Show you’ve read or listened to recent content they created

  • Mention a recent news story related to your prospect’s company

Here’s an example of a LinkedIn prospecting message that incorporates in-depth personalization but also lets your prospect know what you’re reaching out about:

Basic personalization is table stakes today, so you need to prove to your sales prospects that you’re reaching out to them because of a specific reason.

4. Follow Up and Keep Prospects Engaged to Increase Reply Rate

When someone doesn’t reply, it’s not because they don’t want to hear from you. In most cases, it’s because they’re busy.

Let’s be honest – we’ve all received LinkedIn direct messages from salespeople and ignored their opening messages. But if someone follows up with a second relevant and personalized message, they’ll get your attention. 

Following up is critical to improving your response and success rate to LinkedIn outreach messages.

The easiest way to follow up on your initial LinkedIn outreach messages is to use a LinkedIn automation tool. You can create multi-step campaigns and if your prospect doesn’t reply, a second LinkedIn message will automatically be sent after a 3-4 days delay.

5. Set Up LinkedIn Outreach Campaigns for Hard To Reach Prospects

LinkedIn is an amazing platform for networking and talking to prospects to generate new sales leads.But not everyone who has a profile checks LinkedIn regularly. There are times when you can send multiple follow-up emails and even then, not get a reply.

If your prospect isn’t active on LinkedIn but you’re confident they’ll be a good fit, try using a multi-channel approach.

QuickMail can help you simplify your workflow from start to finish. Our outreach platform simplifies campaigns by introducing LinkedIn-specific campaign steps that can be automated along with email, call, and SMS steps. 

QuickMail can help you:

  • Stay within LinkedIn’s limits 

  • Increase your connections

  • Avoid slow and manual outreach

  • Connect with prospects in multiple channels

Users see higher response rates when they have touchpoints with prospects across multiple platforms. For example, sending a LinkedIn connection request and following up with an email 30 minutes later.

Now that email doesn’t seem so cold :)

After adding your prospect, you can create your cold email campaign, complete with personalized details in every email using the editor.

The campaign can have multiple steps, so if someone doesn’t respond to your email, QuickMail will automatically follow up with them for you through set outreach templates.

If you have your prospect’s phone number, you can add in a cold call step in the campaign. You and your team can be reminded to make a call to prospects, and when you make the cold call using Aircall, the integration will automatically sync your call notes into QuickMail.

Tools to Improve Your LinkedIn Prospecting Workflow

There are various powerful and straightforward tools to improve your LinkedIn prospecting workflow. For the in-depth version of this section, make sure to read our guide to the 21 Best LinkedIn Outreach Automation Tools.

However, here are some of our favorite tools for LinkedIn prospecting:

1. Phantombuster

Phantombuster tool screenshot

Phantombuster is a platform that lets you build custom workflows and add new functionality to LinkedIn, such as extracting data from your search results or identifying contact details from a LinkedIn profile. 

You can even set up LinkedIn messaging sequences to send to your list, as long as you have a link to the LinkedIn profile URL of everyone you want to reach out to.

It’s a useful tool in any lead generation agency’s tool stack and will save you hours compared to doing your LinkedIn marketing and prospecting manually.

2. Texau

Similar to Phantombuster, Texau lets you build various useful workflows to accelerate your outreach stage and prospecting workflow. 

A few of the best include:

  • Scrape the profile of LinkedIn profile visitors, so you can send them a personalized message while you’re still top of mind

  • Export leads from Sales Navigator searches to start using them immediately in your cold outreach campaigns

  • Automatically connect with and send messages to prospects you find using Sales Navigator

It’s a powerful automation tool for LinkedIn, and even if you only use 10% of Texau’s capabilities, you’ll still save time and energy compared to doing everything manually.

3. QuickMail

Once you have a  lists of leads created, it’s time to reach out.

QuickMail is an outreach platform that lets you send personalized emails to your prospects, and follow-up automatically if you don't get a response.

You can use a tool like Texau to find emails for your prospects sourced on LinkedIn, and then upload the CSV file into QuickMail.

From there, you can write out personalized email templates, and schedule the email campaign to send when you’re ready for your campaign to start.

Cold email gives you direct access to your prospects’ inboxes and you can reach out with a personalized message.

In addition, QuickMail’s also added native LinkedIn outreach that lets your reach out to your prospects via email and LinkedIn messaging, all from one place.

You can start your free 14-day trial of QuickMail today.

Wrapping Up

An effective LinkedIn prospecting strategy will help you identify and get in touch with more qualified leads, in less time.

From optimizing your profile and sharing helpful content, to sourcing prospects using advanced search operators, the steps in this guide are an excellent way to get started with your LinkedIn prospecting.

As you build your prospect list, you can start to reach out and start conversations using InMail on LinkedIn, or using other channels like cold email.

It won’t be long before you’re sourcing qualified prospects from LinkedIn on autopilot.