February 7, 2023

How To Generate Leads On LinkedIn: The Ultimate FREE Guide

"How To Sell On LinkedIn" flowchart.

LinkedIn is the only place in the world where millions of business executives and owners go to network.

Making it the perfect place to sell.

To prove it, Cleverly has built a $5M ARR business helping thousands of clients use LinkedIn to get leads, resulting in 800+ 5-star reviews.

As the CEO of Cleverly and author of this post, I can promise you right here that this is the absolute best guide to marketing on LinkedIn in 2023.

This guide is a blueprint of how we win our clients 5-20 leads per month without spamming.

See, LinkedIn has changed a LOT over the last 5 years and only those who adapted survived.

Many of our competitors folded because they relied on spray and pray, salesly outreach strategies at very high volumes to get leads. In 2021, LinkedIn reduced the total number of invites per user from around 500/week to 100/week. 

On the bright side, 2022 shined light on a super high leverage opportunity—posting on LinkedIn.

Only 1% of users actually post on LinkedIn, so great posts get outsized shares of impressions.

Luckily, Cleverly cracked the code on how to sell on LinkedIn in 2023. The secret is in applying consistency to our LinkedIn Flywheel For Endless Leads. This only requires about 15 minutes a day, a few hundred invites per month, a great LinkedIn profile, some well-written organic posts and nurturing.

Here is a 4-part, actionable write-up on exactly how to generate leads on LinkedIn, A-Z in 2023:

PART 1: Set-up Your LinkedIn Profile To Convert Leads

Your LinkedIn profile drives conversions.

When you send connection requests or post on LinkedIn, prospects will click to view your profile.

If your profile is great, visitors will take action by either replying to your DM or clicking a link you promote inside your profile.

Your profile viewers are asking themselves two questions:

Question 1: Are you credible?

Question 2: What can you help me do?

The following profile guide will help you work out the answers these questions and drive action:

Step 1: Ensure your profile photo isn’t pixelated and has good lighting. Also, make sure you’re smiling!

Step 2: Use one of the following tagline formulas:

Formula: {Title} | {Massive Credibility}

‍Example: CEO at ACME Capital | 1,300 Multifamily Units and $282M AUM

Formula: {Your Niche} Advisor | {Interesting Hobby/Passion}

Example: Logistics Advisor @ Colby Partners | Father of 4 | Ex-Chef

Step 3: Create a professional banner or upload a photo that shows you working or doing a hobby.

Examples of professional LinkedInabnners.

To create a professional LinkedIn banner, use Canva using banner dimensions 1584 (w) x 396 (h) pixels.

Step 4: Add a CTA under your tagline.

Top of Josh Braun's LinkedIn profile, highlighting a link to a CTA: "The Badass B2B growth Guide" download.

Step 5: Create an About section.

First, tell a story about how you overcame a hardship or problems that your prospects may be facing now. Then, wrap it up with a clear unique-selling-proposition and CTA.

For example:

Example of a well-crafted LinkedIn "About" section.

Step 6: Create a strong Company Page

Your company page should have a:

  • Professional banner and logo
  • Clear tagline
  • Site link

Top of Cleverly's LinkedIn Company Page.

To set up a LinkedIn Company Page, go to LinkedIn, click the “Work” dropdown in the top right of your browser, then select “Create a Company Page +”.

Where to find the "Create Company Page" option on LinkedIn.

Step 7: Complete all other sections in your profile

Here’s a list of the most important sections:

  • Add a “Featured section” with one or two links to case studies or free giveaways.
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Past experience (include all of your significant past jobs).
  • Awards, certifications, achievements

If you want extra help on your profile, read our extended LinkedIn profile guide.

PART 2: Send Connection Requests and Follow-ups That Win Replies

Direct messaging on LinkedIn is where calls are booked and money is made.

If you follow these instructions, you’ll start 15-20 sales conversations with your ideal prospects, while adding 100+ 1st-degree connections to your network. Every. single. month.

The secret to not looking spammy and getting real results from direct messaging is to target one, specific niche at a time and send a series of short, non-salesly messages to them. We’ll go into detail below.

First, buy LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It’s $99/month and it’s the only way to build and save great targeting lists.

Then, build a targeting list for each persona below:

  • Local prospects (the specific city you live in)
  • Lookalike audience (prospects who resemble your best clients)
  • Perfect-fit prospects (prospects most likely to need your service)
  • Ideal partners (people most likely to refer you business)

Watch this video to learn exactly how to build each list:

Want a targeting hack we make every client do? Use the filter "2nd-degree connections", and an average 10% more people will accept your invites. 3rd-degree connections don't have mutual connections with you.

Next, write a 4-touch sequence. Here are some critical writing tips:

  • Customize the messaging for each list.
  • LinkedIn outreach is outbound, meaning prospects aren’t necessarily looking for your service and might be happy with what they have. So, start with a conversation before enlightening them about your way of doing things. 
  • Write like you’re talking 1:1 to someone (casual, conversational).
  • Be extremely clear and keep all messages short.
  • Don’t be vague, be specific.
  • Use insider language.
  • Use social proof.
  • Be helpful and valuable.

How to write a connection message on LinkedIn:

Include one personalizer in the first 7 words of your note (before it’s cut off inside people’s inboxes) and do not pitch. For example: {firstname}, I was connecting with local Founders around LA and your brand piqued my interest. Hopefully we can connect!

How to write the rest of the sequence:

  • Touch 2 (compliment each prospect, then ask a great question)
  • Touch 3 (two-line pitch)
  • Touch 4 (ask to email them a freebie)
  • Test copy until you find what works
  • Expect 15%-40% connect rate and reply rate

For more in-depth directions on how to write great LinkedIn sequences, check out this video:

Then, steal templates from our best performing copy sequences.

Lastly, once you’ve proven you can earn positive replies manually, use a tool to automate outreach and save yourself a ton of time. You can find many affordable, great LinkedIn tools with some simple Google searches.

PART 3: Write LinkedIn Posts That Get Engagement

Personal brands are overtaking company brands.

Every CEO needs to be posting on LinkedIn.

The other day I had a simple post go viral. Here are the results:

  • 122 people messaged me
  • 7,300+ new followers
  • 3.3M+ impressions
  • 29,000+ profile views
  • 2,000+ inbound connection requests
  • Estimated 10-20 booked sales calls for Cleverly

The post:

Nick Verity's viral LinkedIn post about remote work.

All you have to do is consistently post once a week and follow the best practices below.

Here are the 7 tenants of writing LinkedIn posts:

  1. Base every post off one idea
  2. Your hook is extremely important
  3. Write short and choppy
  4. Use real examples to back-up claims
  5. Mimic other influencers in your space (LinkedIn influencer list)
  6. Use emotional power-words and numbers
  7. End each post with a key takeaway

Now that you know the tenants, you need to understand LinkedIn’s algorithm so your content gets boosted in the newsfeed. The algorithm juices posts that follow the rules below consistently.

Here are our LinkedIn algorithm engagement secrets:

  • Ask 3-5 piers to comment on every post (AKA a pod)
  • Get comments in the first hour of posting
  • Reply to every comment ASAP
  • Leave a thoughtful comment on other people’s posts (1x/day)
  • Tag people in some of your posts
  • Post anytime Mon.-Thurs.
  • Use popular hashtags

Here are three LinkedIn post types that you can vary for endless post ideas:

Type 1: Controversial posts

Do not post about what is commonly known or obvious. You’ll get more engagement as a contrarian, so take a side.

To start, write a post for every industry myth you disagree with and for every sales objection you get.


Most {your persona} don’t {need/understand common myth}.

{prove they’re wrong}:

{breakdown of exactly how they’re wrong}

{example of exactly how they’re wrong}

{better alternative to the industry myth}

{why it’s a better alternative}

{serious consequence of this industry myth}


Peter Rota's controversial post about technical SEO.

Type 2: Story posts

People love stories about overcoming hardship and about good/bad work culture.

Here’s a secret very few people understand: most people on LinkedIn are not business owners/executives – most are everyday employees. So, stories about treating employees good/bad, or going from fired and lost to A-player, tend to resonate and get a ton of engagement.


{uncommon HR belief or policy}

{why you believe it to be true}

{example/story of how it was effective}

Do you agree or disagree?


Alexa Sharpe's LinkedIn post about remote work.

Type 3: Educational posts

In order to prove you’re an industry expert and actually drive sales, you need to teach people about your space.

Most educational posts take the form of “How Tos” written in list form.


I’ve {gotten huge accomplishment with these hard numbers to prove it}.

Here’s {exactly how I did it}:

Step 1:

{additional context}

Step 2:

{additional context}

Step 3:

{additional context}

{Key takeaway}


Dan Go's educational post on LinkedIn about exercise.

Once you have significant traction from posting valuable content, you need to convert that traffic. The best way to do that is by optimizing your LinkedIn profile (see section 1), and by creating a free offer to link to in your own comment section. See how Josh Ward does this here:

Jake Ward's comment on LinkedIn that includes a free offer to access his LinkedIn Archive Library."


Finally, once you find post types that perform well, double down on them.

PART 4: Create A LinkedIn Sales Process That’s Easy To Maintain

Here’s a good and bad news sandwich to chew on:

Good news: Parts 1-3 above are the holy trinity of getting leads on LinkedIn.

Bad news: If you don’t have a scalable system for executing the above and following up with leads, you’ll burn out and fail to nurture leads into closed revenue.

Good news: We’ve spent five years perfecting scalable LinkedIn systems and are giving it away below…

Process 1) Block off 20 min. in your calendar every day for LinkedIn. Do that now. Some tasks to do in that slot:

  • Monitor/tweak campaigns
  • Reply to and nurture leads
  • Write LinkedIn posts
  • Engage with other people’s posts

Process 2) You need to send 10-15 connection requests a day and follow-up with those who accept. To do this at scale, you’ll need an automation tool.

Important - if you automate bad messaging to a bad list, you’ll spam and piss off your audience. I suggest manually sending personalized copy to 50-60 prospects until you find messaging that works. This is defined by 20%+ of people actually accepting your connection requests and replying somewhat positively to your messages. To avoid hitting LinkedIn’s invite limit, we recommend you send under 100 requests a week.

When you’ve done the above, look for tools by Googling “Top LinkedIn Marketing Services” or “Top LinkedIn Tools.” There are a ton of good options out there.

Process 3) Reply to leads ASAP and nurture them.

I promise you leads will slip through the crack if you don’t follow the instructions below.

A few golden pieces to note on response handling:

  • Outbound leads are not inbound leads — we’ve interrupted them, so they don’t have the same level of intent and trust. You need to work to get calls by being interesting, offering value, and following up.
  • Reply to everyone – even if they don’t seem too interested.
  • Reply fast or deals will disappear.
  • Follow-up
  • Write like you talk
  • Keep your replies short (1-4 sentences)
  • Have natural 1:1 conversations with people
  • Personalize your replies off a prospect’s LinkedIn profile
  • Store every positive reply in a CRM (if you lack a CRM, use a Google Sheet)

“Companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour.” - HubSpot

Steven Schmidts LinkedIn post about the importance of sales reps following up.

There are four general buckets for what prospects will say to you. Here’s how to handle each type:

A) The prospect is interested

  • Go straight for their email, phone number, and/or propose a meeting time, so you can schedule the call and make it easy for the prospect.

B) The prospect is semi-interested or asks you a question

  • Answer their question and acknowledge their reply. Ask another question or two about their current situation or potential pain points – similar to what you may ask in the opening discovery of a sales call.

C) Basic, templated replies like “thanks for connecting” 

  • Offer free value or ask discovery questions to uncover pain.

D) Not interested or sales objections 

Create a list of your responses to common replies, so you can copy and paste to save time.

Process 4) Follow-up over email.

  • Most of the time you should ask interested prospects for their email.
  • Use Apollo.io or Mixmax to put people in follow-up drip email sequences.
  • If a lead doesn’t give you their email, use Apollo to find it (they have a Chrome extension that attaches to Sales Navigator).
  • Write a 4-touch follow-up email sequence.

Watch this video for a complete training on how to follow-up over email using MixMax.

Process 5) Hire VA or add sales reps

*Only scale and apply process five after you master everything with your personal profile.

  • Hire a VA to reply to people and set meetings.
  • Get your employees to run campaigns (split your targeting lists up by geography or specific accounts so you don’t overlap).


To sum up this entire guide, the best way to sell on LinkedIn in 2023 is by:

  1. Turning your LinkedIn profile into a landing page.

  2. Automating daily connection requests and follow-ups to persona-based lists with short, non-salelsy messaging personalized to each niche.

  3. Writing one LinkedIn post per week that’s educational, contrarian, or story-based, while replying to your comments quickly to boost engagement.

  4. Calendaring 20-min. a day to execute simple processes for writing posts, tweaking outreach, nurturing leads, replying to people, and commenting.

If you consistently execute on the above, you’ll create a flywheel in under a year that spits out 30+ leads every month. These leads will book calls with you off your website, download offers in your profile, and message you in your LinkedIn inbox.

And remember that results on LinkedIn compound every month…

So start now and don’t stop.