Those tasked with social media marketing for their B2B know that LinkedIn is a gold mine of potential to create relationships, manage customers, and stay in touch with colleagues. But have you ever considered LinkedIn as a prospecting tool? Learn how social media marketing can create new prospects, right on LinkedIn.

1. LinkedIn Answers

Take a look at your 1st level connections that you’d like to develop more, and see if there is a common thread that occurs in their recent activity. Write a LinkedIn Answers question on their challenges, frustrations and roadblocks and invite these connections to respond.¬†Likewise, you should be answering other peoples questions, while mining the connections on your LinkedIn Answers, and Groups.

2. LinkedIn Groups

As mentioned in a previous post, LinkedIn Groups are a great place to see and be seen. It is an opportunity to ask questions, respond to others, and create relationships. Be careful not to get too salesy in your questions or responses. You want to add thought leadership, insight and value to the conversation. If someone is impressed enough with your response or even your question, they can peruse your profile to learn more about your company.

Create groups around clusters of people with whom you can relate, add value, and gain trust in order to develop those relationships into prospects. The added bonus of a Group is that you can email members directly on a weekly basis.

3. Introductions

Take a look at your 1st degree connections’ connections. Does anyone look like a potential prospect to you? If you have a great rapport with your 1st level connection, ask them for an introduction to their 1st degree connection (and hence, your 2nd degree connection). Be smart about these requests, and enlighten your connection on how this introduction may be beneficial not only to their connection, but to your connection as well.

Did you know you can filter your newsfeed to show news from your new connections? Sort and see if your connections have made any new connections, then reach out to them for an introduction. Use the same benefit/reward model as introductions above.

4. Recommendations

Look through your updates for anyone your connections might have recommended recently. The person recommended is in the limelight, so why not share the love? Strike while the iron is hot and ask for an introduction to this newly recommended connection.

Has one of your connections recently been recommended by someone else? Look through those people as well for possible introductions.

5. Companies

Say you want to get to the decision maker at a company, but aren’t sure how to get there. Take a look at the company profile and search through the employees. Are you a 1st degree connection with someone there? Can they expand your connections with introduction to other employees in the program? While these people may not be the decision maker, they can be your advocate giving you important company information and insight.

A word of caution: be smart in how you use LinkedIn to prospect. Remember that social media marketing isn’t selling. Overdoing blind connection requests or pestering someone with too many introduction requests can work against you in this social media outlet. As my mother always said– and I think this can apply to LinkedIn behavior — treat others as you would have them treat you.