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Stellar Partnerships

7 Top tips for prospect research

How is your partnership prospecting going? Unless you’ve got a Rolodex like the legendary PR guru Max Markson, I suspect you don’t have the connections to the corporate partners you want. We often hear from non-profits that the board is full of technical experts or they’re not well-connected businesspeople. They claim they can’t provide connections or introductions to help the partnership team. That doesn’t mean you should email a brochure to info@corporate and keep your fingers crossed.
In this digital age, your best asset is your laptop. So much information is available online if you just know how to search for it. I’ll assume that you have a thoughtful, strategically chosen shortlist of potential corporate partners. You just need to find a way in to talk to the right person and make a real connection.
Here are some top tips to use online platforms for your prospecting.

Birds of a feather

Let’s say you have the name of someone in a similar role, but not your prospect company. Bring up their LinkedIn profile and then look to the right to the “People also Viewed” box. Birds of a feather tend to flock together- or at least know who they are. You’re likely to find people in the same roles at other companies. This also works well if you have the name of someone at your target company but not quite the right one. They’ll often be connected with their colleagues and you’ll get the name you need. You may also get a good idea of their email address. Check out the contact details for a person at the same organisation and use the same formula. It’s usually a variant of the following:Linda.Garnett@corporate.comgarnettl@corporate.comlgarnett@corporate.com.

Scroll their Skills

If you find the right person and you want more contacts in similar roles, view their LinkedIn profile and scroll down to Skills. Click on the list of endorsements and see who they’re connected to. You’ll get a fresh list of names and potentially some mutual connections. You may be closer to your target prospect than you realise.

Find common ground

You’ve got a name and an email address. How do you create some rapport during your first meeting when you don’t know anything about them? Start with finding common ground. Type in your search bar https://www.linkedin.com/edu/alumni and you’ll get a list of everyone who attended the same school or university. Take a look at their social media profile. If they’re aged 40 or over, they’ll probably be on Facebook. Even if it’s set to private you might notice their location, hobbies or pets. Maybe their profile photo has them in lycra with their racing bike.  You’re looking for something to create a connection and common ground when you get to meet them, not freak them out with your Facebook stalking!

LinkedIn corporate page

We always advise non-profits to look at a full 12 months of activity on a corporate’s LinkedIn and social media pages. It gives you an indication of the campaigns they typically run and the seasonality of their business. When are the busiest and most active times? Which employees are commenting on their posts? What are the issues that they are focusing on? Sometimes it can give you a hint to the corporate’s biggest challenges. If they’re constantly posting about how it’s a great place to work, you can bet they’ve got staff retention and engagement issues.

Use advanced Google search

This means qualifying your search terms with AND, OR, NOT. Pop in “site:linkedin.com/in” at the start of your search and qualify away. For example, you want to find the person at Coles who manages community partnerships. Type in “site:linkedin.com/in AND Coles AND community” and you’ll get a page of people and their LinkedIn profiles. Then you can dig a bit deeper to find the best start point for your prospecting.

Create a search alert

Use Google Alerts to follow the activity on the companies you’re targeting. It’s also a good idea to set up a Job Alert on LinkedIn for the company, then you get notified when they’re hiring. Staff changes are always a useful catalyst for prospecting, especially if they’re leadership changes. That could be an opportunity for a fresh look at partnerships or a new strategy for community engagement.

Connect and expand

Your networks are always bigger than you realise, especially if you leverage your colleagues’ contacts too. Make sure you’re connected on LinkedIn with all of your board, leadership and as many colleagues as possible. This gives you a huge network of potential warm introductions.
Don’t be disheartened if your leadership or board don’t have an address book of CEOs for you. The digital world means that we’re only a few clicks away from connection with anyone in the world. Let your laptop do the heavy lifting when you’re finding the right prospects.