An entire cottage industry of LinkedIn software hacks, browser extensions and other add-ons are making it easier than ever to generate leads on the world’s largest social media platform for professionals.
Now, I’ve been bullish on LinkedIn for quite some time due to the ease of locating and engaging your ideal, B2B-related sales leads and clients using the platform.
Apparently I’m not alone. In the past few months, I’ve noticed several software developers jumping into the fray, offering Internet browser add-ons, software hacks and automation methods all built around LinkedIn. All of it is aimed at helping LinkedIn users like you and me increase our visibility on the platform, automate the lead generation process and even send prospects LinkedIn invites from right inside our personal email accounts.
What follows is a look three of the best “LinkedIn hacks” I’ve come across recently, along with the potential pros, cons and costs of each one.
Rapportive is a great (and free!) add-on for Gmail users. It takes just a few seconds to install via Google’s Chrome browser and works with Mozilla’s Firefox as well.
Rapportive taps into your Gmail inbox and immediately pulls up any related LinkedIn profiles, Twitter handles, Skype accounts, websites or other online entities tied to a person’s email address.
In addition, Rapportive enables you to send someone a personalized LinkedIn invite without leaving your Gmail inbox. If you’re using LinkedIn as a lead generation and content marketing platform (and you should be!), Rapportive is a great way to effectively and efficiently build your network from right inside Gmail.
(FYI, LinkedIn also recently announced a new partnership with Yahoo! Mail that will be bringing a similar experience to those users as well.)
Lead Generation Tools
With 350 million members in 200 countries, it can be hard to gain visibility on LinkedIn.
Enter Autopilot for LinkedIn, which allows you to automatically visit hundreds of profiles a day on … you guessed it … “autopilot.”
The idea here is simple … you do a custom LinkedIn search to pull up a list of the exact, ideal people you’d want to be in front of. For example, say you have a product or service you want to pitch to COOs in Philadelphia.
In this instance, you’d run a LinkedIn search for COOs in Philadelphia, and use the Autopilot plugin to automatically visit several hundred of the individual profiles of COOs in Philly that come up based on your search.
This is a straight visibility tactic, aimed at leveraging the popular “Who’s Viewed My Profile?” feature on LinkedIn.
With this example, using Autopilot for LinkedIn, your name, face and profile information would now show up prominently in the “Who’s Viewed My Profile” section for hundreds of COOs in the Philadelphia area.
They, in turn, curious about who you are and the service or product you provide, might go and visit YOUR profile to learn more. Some might even reach out to connect, intrigued by what you might have to offer.
See how it works?
With all that said, it’s time for an important disclaimer. There are some who feel that auto-visiting profiles might be a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service, and that, even if it doesn’t, it’s a “black hat” type of marketing tactic.
I did try out Autopilot a few times during its free trial period (after 15 days they’ll charge you $19.99 a month to keep using it) and did not run into any issues. I did notice a big spike in the amount of people who were looking at my profile after I’d automatically looked at theirs, and I also got a lot of invites to connect from people in my target audience as a result.
But after hearing some stories online of others getting their accounts flagged by LinkedIn for similar behavior, I decided the risk outweighed the reward for me.
Now, there are some prominent LinkedIn trainers out there who sing the praises of Autopilot without reservation, and the developer and his team insist that if you use their product in moderation, you’ll be fine. That’s why I decided to mention it here. Either way, you need to know the potential risks in case you decide to jump in.
I’ve saved perhaps the most valuable – and important – LinkedIn hack for last.
It’s called Dux-Soup, and it lets you automatically export a .CSV file (which you can open in Microsoft Excel or a similar program) of every LinkedIn profile you’ve visited in any given timeframe. The .CSV file includes the name of the person whose profile you visited, his or her job title, company name, location, email, phone number and more depending on a few different factors.
The reason I love Dux-Soup is that I might have spent an hour going in and visiting the profiles of people in my target audience, sending them invites to connect or messages about something, and now I can remember and track all my activity automatically with one simple export.
I’ll open up the .CSV file in Excel, then just add a column at the end with notes on activity taken for each person – if I sent him or her a message or invite, what date we interacted, anything I want to remember about that person, etc.
Dux-Soup will save you hours of manual data entry when it comes to tracking all the leads you come across and interact with on LinkedIn. It costs $15.00 per month, and it also includes similar features to Autopilot, including the ability to auto-visit profiles of LinkedIn users based on Google or LinkedIn searches.
I don’t utilize that element of Dux-Soup for the same reasons I mentioned my trepidation with Autopilot, but trust me when I say that automatic .CSV file export is worth its weight in gold.
There are more LinkedIn add-ons, software hacks and automation tools coming soon. The reason is simple – LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s gaining momentum and has massive expansion plans in areas including publishing, content marketing and e-learning.
So if you haven’t already, you NEED to be getting active on LinkedIn. If you’re not sure how or where to start, go here and let’s go you going!