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October 26, 2022

The LinkedIn Networking Strategy for SaaS

Will van der Sanden, Founder of Dux-Soup was recently welcomed to join Benjamin Boman for the latest in his series of marketing podcasts.


The marketer and podcast host, discussed the benefits of LinkedIn lead generation in the B2B sector, with a specific focus on SaaS.


Listen to the 30-minute recording in full, or alternatively, if you’d like to read Will’s thoughts on LinkedIn automation and the networking strategy that Dux-Soup enables for SaaS companies worldwide, keep reading, as Will shares his expert tips on:

·       Building a network for your SaaS using LinkedIn

·       How to expand your network using LinkedIn automation

·       The key to successful B2B communication

·       How to scale your SaaS outreach with LinkedIn


BB – Benjamin Boman

WvdS – Will van der Sanden


Why LinkedIn is the platform of choice

BB – What are your views on LinkedIn strategy and how to leverage automation to make it a good channel for a B2B company or B2B SaaS to be using? Why LinkedIn in particular?

WvdS - Nothing compares to the sheer reach of LinkedIn when it comes to B2B, online networking. It’s that simple. There are 830 million users on LinkedIn and although obviously not all of them will be active users, for most professionals the first thing they do when they get a new job, is to update their LinkedIn profile.

It’s the most up to date and widest reaching network you can find at the moment.

The simplicity of connecting via LinkedIn

BB – LinkedIn is an interesting channel, because in some cases it’s easier to reach out and connect with prospects via LinkedIn than it is via email. Is that something you have found?

WvdS - Yes, absolutely, and that’s based on my own experience and that of our customers too. LinkedIn is a business networking website, so people are generally more receptive to being approached for business networking purposes on LinkedIn, because that’s really what the website is for.  

It’s harder to know when and how to use emails. We already receive so much unwanted communication via our business and private email accounts, so it’s hard to be sure your email will stand out from the crowd. In many cases, your audience is more than happy to dismiss an email without reading it, which means you never get the opportunity to explain the benefits of your products and services for their business using this method of communication.

If you approach the right people on LinkedIn, who will genuinely benefit from your products and services, they will listen because they know that’s what LinkedIn is about.

In my experience, you can directly correlate successful outreach campaigns to LinkedIn.

SaaS success using LinkedIn outreach

BB - When it comes to B2B SaaS companies trying to leverage LinkedIn, is there a particular sub-group or segment of users who will find it much easier to do outbound marketing via LinkedIn?

WvdS – It will be different for each business; however, I do believe there’s a chance of success for every business.

The way I see it, if your audience is on LinkedIn (which will be the case for most B2B businesses), then it’s a good place to reach out to them as they are likely to be more receptive to your communications.

There will be some industries, IT savvy businesses or certain geographical locations where people are more; or less inclined to take the communications further on LinkedIn.

There is clearly a cultural element to be aware of too, but overall, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a business that doesn’t benefit or wouldn’t benefit from LinkedIn outreach.

Common mistakes when using LinkedIn for B2B outreach

BB – When people get started with LinkedIn outreach, what would you say are the common mistakes people make in terms of how they go about it? What have you noticed people doing, that doesn’t work, or what have you seen that happens a lot but is misguided?

WvdS – A lot of the common mistakes I see, stem from people being too enthusiastic when they start using LinkedIn, and as a result their outreach is too scattered.

The 3 biggest mistakes I see people making so often, are:

1)   Poor planning - Rather than think about the process and pre-plan their approach, they just start using automation software to send connection requests and messages without really thinking about the campaign they are running, or the audience they want to target.


2)    Aggressive comms - People don’t take the medium into account so their communication can be too aggressive. Even though it’s a business social network, LinkedIn is primarily still a social network, so you don’t really want to come across too salesy. The best approach is to take it slowly, rather than just focus on a quick sale.


3)    A lack of measurement – This also catches people out. The question users should ask themselves is ‘what is a good outcome’? ‘After I’ve completed this campaign, how do I measure whether the outcome has been successful or not’? If they don’t know how to measure its success, it makes it difficult to refine the process and improve it. That’s definitely something that trips up quite a few people.

[Note - For expert tips on how to nurture relationships for outreach success, take a look at 2 different approaches, shared with Dux by 2 of our favourite guest hosts:]

The importance of relationship building

BB – What would you say to people that have taken the view that if they just blast out 10,000 connection requests, and a small fraction of those lead to a direct conversion or a direct response, that they don’t have to do any relationship building? Is that a good approach from your perspective?

WvdS – I think it’s an approach that isn’t going to give anyone much in the way of results, and one that’s dangerous in terms of how LinkedIn will respond to the usage on your account. When you create too much activity on your LinkedIn account (especially if you haven’t really done any outreach on LinkedIn before) then you’ll very quickly receive a temporary ban. Obviously, that is a very quick route to failure on your LinkedIn outreach journey.

[Note- Take a look at our recent webinar on ‘How to build the perfect database from LinkedIn’ – which is full of tips about the data you can get from LinkedIn, how to collect it and what you can do with it.]

All the tools are there in LinkedIn to narrow down your target audience, so your messaging only goes to those people who are relevant in helping you to grow your network, or those who will benefit from the product or service you are selling. By not using the search functions available, you just end up spending a lot of wasted time creating noise ‘at’ those who are not interested in hearing from you.

In addition to the level of activity being too aggressive, the tone of voice in your LinkedIn communication can also be seen to be too aggressive.

You need to build up your relationships, by having interactions and spend time nurturing the relationship before trying to sell your product or service. Suggesting that someone will benefit from ‘trying this product’ or ‘attending this webinar’ should only be done when you have built a relationship with your prospects.

If you communicate too aggressively, users will just block you, and then you have no way of communicating with them. So, it can be aggressive in both the sheer scale of activity as well as the tone of your communication.

[Note -To understand the LinkedIn connection limits, take a look at our recent webinar, which explains ‘How to scale lead generation with LinkedIn’s ‘100 connection per week’ limit’.]

The 4-step guide to successful B2B communication

BB – Based on your experience and what you’ve seen working with your users, what would you recommend as a better approach and how would you leverage this and try to automate the process?

WvdSThe first thing to do (which is true of all marketing campaigns), is to find the persona of your audience and identify your end users. These are the people who you think will benefit from using your product. You need to profile who your users are, where they are, what age they are and in some cases what gender they are, so you have a better picture of your users.

You also need to think about the decision makers in the process. For some products the decision maker is the end user, but for many products that isn’t the case. The next step is to grow your network in the direction of those audiences, and you do that by using the different functionality in LinkedIn to find and connect with them.

·      Firstly, start growing your network and connecting to the right people. The aim is to connect with people who are likely to be interested in using your product at some point in the future.


·      Secondly, reach out to those people regularly. Don’t bombard them with sales pitches, instead send them relevant content. For example, if you see an article that could be interesting to the persona of your target audience – share it, or if there’s an event coming up which is relevant, share that.


·      Thirdly, make sure that you follow-up with those prospects who respond. Very often the decision makers, customers and your users are interested, but your timing might not be quite right, so you need to nurture the relationship. Reach out every month or two with relevant material, and at some point, your timing will be right.


·      Fourthly, when that time is right, the prospect will contact you. That’s when it’s time for you to handover the potential customer to your business development team for them to develop a more human interaction (whether that be a phone call, video or conference call or a face-to-face meeting).

That’s the way to manage LinkedIn automation successfully.

Connection strategies for B2B SaaS success

BB – When it comes to targeting your persona do you find it useful to use any traditional networking strategies, such as finding super-connectors, or trying to connect with people one step ahead of you? Is it worth following up with any of these strategies or would you advise connecting directly with your target users – the ones who will ultimately be using your product or service?

WvdS – It depends on the culture of your audience. In the USA you’re probably likely to succeed with a more direct approach than in other places. Generally, the most successful approach is to take it one degree of connection at a time, so you aim to grow your network through the people that you are connected to (and you don’t reach out to people you have no connection with). If you have a shared connection, people are more likely to accept a connection request and take you into their network.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for marketing influencers for example, you probably want to go for a more direct approach. They will understand the type of business you’re in and will understand that there’s likely to be a mutual benefit for you both, but for your real target audience, your customers, it’s best to grow towards them. It’s easy to do - people hop around between roles, so once you’ve built a network, and you notice that someone has changed jobs, then you can use that as a way of connecting with people from a different company who might be interested. You can also connect with sales or marketing teams from other businesses, which is also a great way to reach a possible audience.

So, in terms of strategies, if you’re looking to grow your network of potential customers, it helps for you to be as close to the connection as possible before making the leap. Aim to move them from a 3rd to 2nd and then to a 1st degree connection within your network.

[Note - Go to our support site to take a look at the difference between 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections.]

Expanding your B2B SaaS network to 2nd degree connections

BB - How do you know when the connections or the relationships you’ve built with these 2nd degree connections, who have now become 1st degree connections, is strong enough in order for you to then target new 2nd degree connections that come out of that relationship?

WvdS Once someone accepts a connection request, their 1st degree connections become your 2nd degree connections and, in my experience, there is no real reason why you can’t continue growing your network from there.

You often find if you grow your network in this way, after a year or two (depending on how quickly you grow), you’ll probably be a 2nd degree connection to your entire audience, because the way that people network, they tend to connect to people in the same business or the same company. If you start an outreach campaign on LinkedIn for a different geographical area for example, and then you start using the filters and finding different lists that you want to target, very quickly you’ll notice that most of the connections visible to you are already 2nd degree connections.

B2B connections that count

BB - Every industry is different, but how many contacts would you suggest people aim for, or are there any kind of milestones that people should aim towards? A lot of people talk about getting to ‘500 connections’ for the kudos on their profile – is there a magic number that people ought to keep in mind?

WvdSObviously 500 connections is not enough. You should be aiming for between 2000 and 3000 connections. A lot depends on your industry and many other factors, but once you have about 2000-3000 1st degree connections that are relevant, you’ll find that you’re probably already a 2nd degree connection to all of your audience.

The value of sharing information with your network

BB – As for the messaging and development part of the relationship building, aside from just trying to keep in touch, can you recommend any particular approaches or reasons to types of communicate. For example, I know birthdays are a bit of a joke sometimes on LinkedIn, as users often receive hundreds of automated messages, but is there a particular type of message that you recommend people should look at?

WvdS - I think the most important thing is to stay on topic. Make sure your communications are from the perspective of the product, or the problem that your business can solve for the user. Ideally the information you share will have some value to your audience. If you’re trying to market a software product, you will know all the ins and outs of that product, and the industry, but your audience doesn’t know all of this. They don’t really follow the news that you’re following in the same way, so if you provide them with information that you think could be of interest, then people will listen to that and thank you for sharing it as well.

Scaling your B2B outreach using LinkedIn automation

BB – We’ve talked about building your network, when to start expanding your network, the approximate size to aim for and some ideas around what to communicate with your audience, but how would you go about scaling this process using different types of marketing automation tools?

WvdS - Scaling your activity on LinkedIn will generally be linear to the number of profiles that you use on LinkedIn. I’m not recommending creating fake profiles here, but the reality is when you scale up your outreach activity, the only way to do this is by using multiple profiles, otherwise your level of activity is very restricted [due to the LinkedIn limits].

Ideally within your organization, you will have a Business Development, and/or Sales Development team who can create and build up their own LinkedIn profiles and use those for business outreach purposes.

Once you have multiple profiles conducting outreach, then you need to divide up the workload. Not everyone will be involved in all of the campaigns, all of the time so it’s essential to coordinate the automated element that is being run across the different profiles. It’s important to make sure that management of outreach and growing your network is done in the context of a more concerted effort, so people are aware which campaign they are working on and what messaging is relevant to the audience for that campaign.

If you scale up without any coordination, your teams will just be duplicating work, and with it, annoying your audience too. Without coordination, it will also be impossible to track the level of success from your outreach campaigns.

Once you do have the right level of process control, you need all of the team members who are using their LinkedIn accounts [for business lead generation activities], to be regularly running the automation activities and managing outreach. Make sure that the Business and Sales Development teams are still keeping an eye on the responses from your audience and following up with the prospects that do respond.

Unfortunately, you’ll find the LinkedIn message box is useless for scaling your messaging. Even in Sales Navigator it really isn’t fit for the purposes of real outreach. To manage this, use software that alerts you when you have received a response, so you can manage the flow of communication. This allows you to qualify leads in and out in a timely manner and follow up with the ones that are interested.

LinkedIn campaign management

BB - You mention having the right number of suitable profiles and dividing up the work so you can be as active as you’d like to be given the limitations on LinkedIn. For clarity, are you referring to the number of contacts each profile will target over a certain period of time?

WvdS – Yes. Different campaigns will have different audiences. Initially you might only have one campaign, which will be ‘to grow your network’, you’ll probably follow this up with a regular campaign for general outreach containing interesting news items to share with decision makers. You might have another campaign aimed more towards end users, and another targeting different geographical locations, so you can make the content more topical for their environment.

What’s important, is to make sure you don’t have all of your sales reps working across all of your campaigns. Identify different workstreams for each of them to work on, so different team members are managing different campaigns as part of the overall B2B outreach programme.

[Note - To learn more about creating drip campaigns using Dux-Soup, take a look at our 2-minute tutorial. To access all of the campaign features, take a look at Dux-Soup Turbo.]

Get your SaaS business started with LinkedIn automation

BB – If a sizeable sales team working for an IT SaaS, targeting mid-sized firms in the US, were to apply this strategy and process to selling their products; what would be the first 3 things you’d do to get their automation process started?


1)   Find the influencers in LinkedIn who are active and listened to in that space, and make sure you’re regularly engaging with them.

2)   Find your audience on LinkedIn, create lists or keywords for the different target groups. Different audiences will use different products indifferent ways, so find ways to engage with those audiences in LinkedIn.

Make sure you separate your client base into distinct groups of users and decision makers. They will need different messaging and they will need to be approached by employee profiles of different levels of seniority. Very often the regular Sales employees will target the regular end users of the product and depending on the size of the business, the VPs or CEOs will target the profiles of the decision makers and the influencers. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you have a list of the different profiles you can use for different types of outreach.

3)   Once you’ve got the basics right start growing and building your network. Even doing something as simple as carrying out automated profile visits of relevant audiences is a great way to start. The key is to make sure you’re not just visiting random profiles, or you might end up visiting a competitor’s profile which isn’t something you want to do.

Make sure before you start reaching out to different prospects, that the profile you’re using for outreach is professional. Make sure your title is clear and it’s obvious to your target audience, why your visit or your business is relevant to them. It’s also important to have a professional photo – nothing too quirky or funny, and nothing family oriented. Even just starting with auto-visiting can be a really successful way of generating interest, as it encourages people to visit your profile in return.

Once you’re comfortable with that and you’re happy you have the right profile configuration, then you can start defining the campaigns, defining the messaging for those campaigns and setting the automations up to run.

The Best LinkedIn Automation Tools

Measuring campaign success

BB – When it comes to measuring the success of a LinkedIn outreach campaign, what would you say are the key metrics to look out for?

WvdS – The answer really depends on the campaign. If your campaign is about setting up demo calls with your audience, then the number of people who have scheduled calls will be your metric. It really is that straightforward.

If your campaign is about connecting with influencers, then your metric will be the number of new connections in the segment you’re targeting. If it’s about finding people to attend a conference, then success would be measured based on the number of people who have responded and joined your conference as a direct result of your LinkedIn campaign.

Each campaign will have a particular driver. Even without the LinkedIn element, you’re running a campaign to try to achieve something or find someone and you’re doing that, for example, to generate more calls or increase sales of your software. As you can make campaigns in LinkedIn so targeted, it’s easy to see where the automation stops, and the manual handover starts. At that point you can really measure how many prospects have made it to that part of the funnel and assess whether they are really showing an interest in what you’ve been trying to promote.

With LinkedIn automation, the aim is to get as many relevant people through the funnel as possible.

[Note - Our Dux-Dash, (available with Dux-Soup Turbo) allows you to monitor campaign progress, qualify leads in and out of the sales funnel and analyze campaign statistics.]

Let the numbers speak for themselves

BB - There don’t seem to be any metrics on LinkedIn in terms of acceptance rates or visits resulting from connection requests. Is that something that doesn’t need to be a big consideration provided you’ve done your targeting correctly?

WvdS – I don’t think it needs to be a massive consideration. If we take the invitation acceptance rate for example, if your campaign is about growing your network, then that is the key metric of that campaign. Most campaigns, however, will not be about growing your network. Once you have grown your network, most of your campaigns will be about reaching out to existing connections.

The connection acceptance event is really just a small part of your campaign strategy and is either a necessity (because you haven’t done it yet) or it’s already happened. So don’t get hung up on this. What you need to be focusing on to measure success, is the real-world outcomes of your campaigns.

You can listen to Will’s interview in full here:

If you’d like to experience all the features Dux-Soup has to offer, then why not get started today, with our free 2-week Dux-Soup trial. Simply register now – we won’t even ask for your payment details.

About Benjamin Bowman

Benjamin is a marketer and podcast host, who focuses on lead generation, content marketing, and marketing automation. As host of the podcast, he interviews all the best marketers and business founders to share their expertise and wisdom. All of his podcasts are available on his website.


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