We like to talk about pitching around these parts – from pitching templates to pitching etiquette, we’ve been covering a lot of ground. But even our enthusiasm sometimes wanes in the face of how time consuming it is to actually find people to pitch.
Enter professional writer extraordinaire, Nick Darlington (whom Gina met when she was a guest on his podcast).
Nick graciously offered to explain his LinkedIn pitch strategy – that is, the process that he uses to build a prospect list on LinkedIn.
Take it away, Nick!
If you use cold pitching to find clients, you know that building a prospect list can be a nightmare. Not only do you have to find companies to pitch, but you need to find the right contact as well as their email.
Sometimes finding this information is a breeze, but more often than not it isn’t. Invariably, it involves Google searches, browsing company websites, and using social media.
I get it; I struggle too.
In fact, prospecting had become such a headache that I decided to outsource it to someone on Fiverr. I wanted to get someone to do the work I didn’t want to do so that I could free up time for things that mattered.
In theory, it was a great idea, but in practice, it was anything but. I received generic email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org, the incorrect contact person, and emails that were duds. It was downright frustrating.
What made it even more frustrating was that I received all this information, after I did everything to make sure the person understood what I wanted. I specified the niche, the type of contact (e.g., content manager) and even mentioned what I didn’t want (i.e., generic contact information).
Despite the effort, I was back to where I started: doing it myself.
I then realized that if I couldn’t find a reliable list builder, I would have to make darn sure that I became a pro at doing it myself.
I’d heard of the power of using LinkedIn for prospecting and finding clients, and started experimenting. The results of this experimentation are a five-step process I now use to build a quality pitch list.
Let’s have a look:
Step 1: Find One Company You Want to Use as a Benchmark
If you’re an established writer, you likely already have clients. Start by picking one company from your client base. That will be the company that you mold your search efforts around (Huh? What are you talking about? Bear with me, it will become clear later on).
“But, Nick, I’m new to writing and don’t have any clients.”
Well, that’s not a problem. Find one specific company you would like to write for. Find a company that’s in your niche or niches. For example, if you want to write about finance you could target a company like Xero.
If you’re struggling to choose a niche, grab your free copy of 200 freelance writing niches.
Check to make sure your chosen company is a suitable prospect. I usually see whether they have a working blog because that makes it easier to convince companies of the value of content marketing. I also analyze the type of content they publish to see if the topics are a fit with my niches.
I normally stop there, but if you want to dig deeper, review the size of the company and their revenue. Many employees and high revenue indicate they have the budget for content marketing. Tools such as Owler and LinkedIn Premium will help you get this information.
In fact, before moving on, sign-up for a monthly LinkedIn Premium membership. Not only is the first month free with the option to cancel a week before it renews, but you’ll have an unlimited amount of searches on LinkedIn (Yes, there’s a limit on the number of searches with the free version) and access to exclusive company insights.
Include the domain of your chosen company in an excel spreadsheet.
Now, the fun starts.
Step 2: Visit Your Chosen Company on LinkedIn
In your LinkedIn account, type the name of the company in the search bar, and visit their LinkedIn page. In the below example, I once again used Xero.
While there is interesting information such as the company size and when they were founded, we’re interested in the nifty “People also viewed” feature in the right column.
Step 3: Click the “People Also Viewed” Feature to Find Companies to Follow
This feature lets you view other companies people viewed besides Xero. These companies are often in the same or related industries, and are potential prospects.
View these companies, choose those you want to pitch (based on criteria such as revenue, size, and whether they have a blog), and add them to your spreadsheet.
As you view each new company, you’ll find yourself going down a rabbit hole as the same “People also viewed” feature appears on each new page.
To ensure you take a systematic approach, do following:
- Right-click on each company under “People also viewed” and click “Open Link in New Tab” so that you don’t have to click the back button in your browser each time.
- Follow each company. Once you’ve followed a company, LinkedIn will store this information so you don’t have to search again. This will help when you start looking for decision makers. Speaking of which…
Step 4: Find the Decision Maker Using Keywords
Access the companies you followed by going to your profile, scrolling down, and clicking on “See all” under “Interests.”
Select “Companies” to see all the companies you followed.
If some of the recent companies you followed don’t appear, refresh your page.
Choose one company at a time (again, right-click to save time).
Let’s use the Xero example again. Once you’re on the profile page, click on “See all … employees on LinkedIn.”
You now want to search for the right contact person. This is usually the content director, content editor, content manager, content marketing manager, content coordinator or even head of content.
You could scroll down and move from page to page to find the contact person, but that takes time. Thankfully there’s a better way: search for keywords.
Because “content” is the common keyword in all the job titles, search for that:
Click on “All filters”.
Under “Title” type in content and hit “Apply.”
You’ll now see a page with all the people who have the word “Content” in their job titles.
Find the most senior position to narrow down your results.
If you’re unsure, target a couple of people as I did with the Xero example:
If LinkedIn doesn’t yield results with the word “Content” try different keywords like “editor” and “marketing.”
Those are still good points of contact. Follow the above approach for each company and continue adding them to your prospect list until you’re happy.
Step 5: Find their Email Address Using Email Finding Apps
Sometimes you can get the email addresses from the website. But a better approach is to use email finding apps such as Voila Norbert, findthat, and Hunter. While I do alternate between these apps, my personal favorite is findthat.
All you need is the domain and the name of the person – which you now have.
Visit their site, type in the domain and the person’s name, and let the app do work.
Rinse and repeat the process until you have the emails for your entire prospect list. It’s that easy.
Building a prospect list can be a struggle. Finding companies to pitch to as well as the correct person and their email addresses take time.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply, follow this proven five-step process to build a targeted prospect list quickly:
- Find one company that acts as a benchmark for finding others.
- Visit your chosen company on LinkedIn.
- Use the “People also Viewed” feature to find similar companies and follow them.
- Find the decision maker by applying filters and using keywords.
- Find their email by using email finding apps.
Over to you. What techniques do you use to build a prospect list?
Nick Darlington is a feature writer, B2B Blogger, copywriter, and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. If you’re a business looking to create a stronger brand, gain industry authority, capture more leads, and get more clients, visit nickdarlington.com.