How to Build Your Digital Network Using LinkedIn, Excel, and CRM

May 23, 2018
How to Build Your Digital Network Using LinkedIn, Excel, and CRM

Working on building your digital network? (I mean, who isn’t?!).

There are three tools I use to build my digital network. They are LinkedIn, Excel, and my CRM (

Read on to learn how to use these tools to build your digital network for better relationships and more sales deals.

How to Build Your Digital Network Using LinkedIn, Excel, and CRM

First, I use LinkedIn Sales Navigator (the professional version).

I find LinkedIn’s help center pretty useful. If you have time, check out the “Onboarding” section. It can really help you build out your digital network.

My favorite part in this section details out how to create searches. It also explains how you can receive alerts about the people and companies that you’re saving as leads.

Here’s an example of what I did recently using LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

LinkedIn: Step #1 to Building My Digital Network 

Using the “Advanced” option within the search box:

Using the side panel search within LinkedIn Sales Navigator, I filled out the form with the following search options:

  1. Geography: Greater New York Area. I like to start with people who are relatively local. Right off the bat, this gave me 391.8K in total results.
  2. Relationship: I selected 2nd degree connections, because I wanted my 1st degree connections to introduce me to people they know.
  3. Company: I didn’t select any as I want all that come up.
  4. Industry: In this case, I didn’t select any. But in the future, I might do multiple searches that are based on industry and save each of them. The great thing about Sales Navigator is that I can save each search separately and return to it later. So, I can create one search with industries notated, and one without.
  5. Company headcount: 501-1,000. I wanted to get my results to a more manageable number. Again, I would do another search with a higher employee count and save for later.
  6. Function: Business Development, Sales, Marketing: People in these functions are the ones I want to speak with.
  7. Title: I left this blank, since Function and Seniority level work best.
  8. Seniority level: CXO, Partner, Owner, VP, Director, Senior.
  9. Tag: I left this blank.

At this point I was at 9.3K total results. This was still a large number. So, I looked for ways to prioritize and get my list to a manageable number. I saved this search (using the save search link) and named it “General Leads List, Greater New York, 501-1,000 employees.”

Now, if I wanted to go back, I would go to saved searches and then filter this list down further.

For example, I’d click the link for people that changed jobs in the past 90 days (596 people) or if they were mentioned in the news in the past 30 days (105 people). Another smaller category is for people who share experiences with me, such as who they follow (877).

Excel – Step #2 to Building My Digital Network

The second step to building my digital network is utilizing excel. This might seem a little clunky, but it’s actually not! I use Excel to track connections that I want to engage with—and it works well for this purpose.

Here’s how LinkedIn and Excel work together:

My list of leads stays in LinkedIn Sales Navigator until I find people that I want to engage with. Once I’ve discovered someone that I’d like to meet, and we have a common connection, I add them to my Excel sheet. I enter the person’s name, company, and any other useful information, keeping it brief.

I’ve added a column for who in my network is first-degree-connected with the person I’d like to meet. Then, I sort through that column to see if my contact appears multiple times for people I’d like to be introduced to. This way, I can ask for an intro to everyone at once. Or better yet… call my contact for as much detail about each person, including if they even know them!  Speaking on the phone can save a lot of delay in back and forth on email.

*Note: I recommend using traditional email to ask your contacts for introductions. Here at CFS, we’ve found response rates to be much higher through email than through InMail. But of course, picking up the phone and calling my contacts first is the best option!

CRM – Step #3 to Building My Digital Network

Step three is where CRM comes in.

I use my CRM system ( to track the activities related to asking for introductions.

For example, I have a campaign set up where I add the contacts that I’m asking for a referral from. And another campaign for the new folks that my contacts are introducing me to.

But before I do anything, I check the CRM first. Since we’ve build a big database, I’ve found that oftentimes my LinkedIn connections already live in my CRM. And on occasion, so do the people I’d planned to ask for an introduction to!

Once I’ve found or added a contact to my CRM, I then track the following:

  1. Requested an introduction
  2. Reminder requests for contacts that agreed to introduce but haven’t sent the actual introduction email
  3. When the introduction was made
  4. If the person I was introduced to engaged with me, they become a bona fide lead and/or contact.

I also use my CRM to build my digital network if a person has come in through our website as a lead. For example, someone who was interested in doing business with us or acquired key content. At this point, I have a record of them in my CRM system. I run reports as I did when creating my list in Sales Navigator and decide if engagement makes sense based on the demographics of their company.

As you can see, this is a very process-intensive approach. But without it, I’m unable to build my digital network successfully. Give it a whirl and let me know how it works for you!

Want the full process, built out? Our eBook, How to Generate Sales Leads Using LinkedIn, will guide you through the entire process! Click here or on the image below to download your copy.

New Call-to-action

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.