If you don’t know to whom you’re selling, then why are you selling?

You may know the overall market to which you’re targeting, but there’s an old maxim from Business Network International (BNI) that really applies in this case:

Specific is terrific!

(A bit corny? Yes. But believe me, you’ll never forget it. I’ve tried.)

Where that phrase comes into Social Selling is in the development of what’s called “buyer personas.” Hubspot defines a buyer persona as:

… a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Hubspot (a company I really respect) also advises that when creating  your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. And of course, creating a specific buyer persona will bring you those terrific results.

While creating a buyer persona is not that difficult to do, you should take the process seriously, and devote some real time to develop it. Many factors go into developing a comprehensive buyer persona, and when it comes to Social Selling, they cut across multiple social platforms. For this article, though, I will cover the components that are key when you use LinkedIn to find and engage prospects.

Start by selecting three specific types of clients with which you would like to do more business, and make them the focus of the research. This could be done by industry, geographic location, and so on. Then look up a couple of LinkedIn Company Pages for those companies. Also look up individual Profiles to add more specifics to your buyer persona… for the terrific. (Okay, I’ll stop that now.)

While looking at the pages, take note of these characteristics to create your client personas:

Company Page:

  1. Industry
  2. Specialties
  3. Type (Public or Private)
  4. Headquarters location
  5. Company employee size
  6. Related and people also viewed companies on the bottom right of the company page (these will often be ideal prospects for you)

Individual Profiles:

  1. Title
  2. Location
  3. Industry (although this may be the same as the company page, often individuals will choose an industry based on their title not the company)
  4. Their previous employers
  5. Schools they attended
  6. Groups they are part of
  7. Keywords in their summary and skills sections
  8. Years of experience
  9. Shared connections (often the people that know them will know others like them, and since they are already your first degree connection, they may be a good referral source)

Don’t forget about industry verticals or geographical areas you’ve already served. You can also develop client profiles from the people with who you have worked both pre- and post-sale, and apply those to personas as well.

Is your research done? Good. You can now use these data points with LinkedIn’s Advanced Search. Based on the criteria you have uncovered, you can now very quickly identify lists of prospects you may never have discovered.*

What’s more, you can choose the 2nd degree relationship filter in Advanced Search to generate a list of prospects that someone in your network is already connected to. You can then ask your network members to provide a warm introduction—assuming you have a warm relationship with your first-degree connection, of course. Here’s how I would phrase things if I was sending such a request to one of my shared connections:

Dear [NAME],
I hope this note finds you well. As you may know, I am leveraging LinkedIn to grow my network and noticed that you are connected to [NAME] at [COMPANY]. I was wondering if you would kindly provide an introduction for me. If you could copy us both in an email or LinkedIn message I can take it from there. To make it easier for you, I have included a short paragraph below that you are welcome to copy and paste.

Also, please feel free to look through my connections, I am happy to make introductions for you as well.

Thanks so much!

—–   —–   —–

I would like to introduce you to Bob Woods, co-partner of LevelUp Business Coaching & Training. I thought it might make sense for the two of you to connect and investigate how you might work together. Bob helps sales professionals build their pipeline, reduce the sales cycle and close more business through leveraging the power of LinkedIn. Bob’s LinkedIn programs have made a significant impact on the way professionals are growing their business.

Bob will be contacting you in the next couple of days, please take his call; I believe it will be well worth your time. If you would like to reach out to Bob, his contact information is: [email protected]800-342-8935, or .

*Some filters in Advanced Search are only available with a LinkedIn Premium account. If you have a basic account, CLICK HERE to see your upgrade options.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.