Blocked? Use LinkedIn to Get to the Buyer

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This technique is so easy it makes for a very short column this week.

A popular refrains these days:

“We get blocked by gatekeepers:”

You: “Put me through to the quality manager, please.”Gatekeeper: “What’s his name?”You: “Ummm...”Gatekeeper: *click*

Many times, we can’t get to the person we want, and, in fact, aren’t even sure who that person is. LinkedIn can help. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to pinpoint the person you want to develop a relationship with. Just go to advanced search for people and use the filters. You can filter by all kinds of things, but I recommend company, location, and title. You may have to try a couple of variations on job titles. For example what one company refers to as an electrical engineer may be an electronics engineer or  electronics designer at other companies. Note that the filters that come with premium subscriptions are valuable, but not really necessary in a search like this one.  

Once you have the person’s name, you do one of three things:

  • Try through the switchboard again;
  • Do some research on LinkedIn and try through the switchboard again; or
  • Do some research on LinkedIn and approach the person through LinkedIn.

The next technique covers the third approach.

“People don’t return our calls.”

A person’s LinkedIn profile is popularly thought of as an online resume. Another way of looking at it is a list of reasons to introduce yourself to someone and start a relationship.

What you have to do is read the person’s LinkedIn profile and find something you can use as a conversation starter. These could include people you have in common (in this case, people you are both connected with on LinkedIn), schools attended, their interests and causes, LinkedIn groups they belong that you may share with them (and if you don’t, why not join one of them), companies or LinkedIn influencers they are following, and people you know at their company

Bonus indicators: There are two indicators on a person’s LinkedIn profile that will give you an immediate reading on how receptive they will be to hearing from a stranger and they are right there in front of you, you just have to recognize them for what they are:

  • Their activity. LinkedIn recently re-introduced this feature and it’s a beauty. Clicking on “recent activity” will show you what they have (or haven’t) been doing on LinkedIn over the previous two weeks. The more someone uses LinkedIn, the more activity they will have and the more likely they will respond to a message.
  • Their number of connections. This is the same idea. Someone whose profile shows 500+ connections is someone who understands the value of networking. If I send a message to someone with 500+ connections that I don’t know, I fully expect they will reply within 24 hours (mind you, the message needs to be well thought out too!). If I send a message to someone with only 65 connections, I am not optimistic that I will get an answer at all. This type of person probably doesn’t log in to LinkedIn that often, and usually doesn;’t really know how to get any benefit out of it.

I haven’t been blocked by a gatekeeper in three years. Why should you be?Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management. He can be reached at or through his profile on LinkedIn.



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