I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn looking at people’s profiles. I think they’re a gold mine of information for savvy sales professionals who want to learn as much they can about their prospects before contacting them. Right now, many of the prospects you seek are sharing invaluable information about themselves on LinkedIn. And the best thing about these profiles is that they are self-created.

Let me tell you specifically what I look for:

1. How their job performance is measured. I start by checking out how they describe their current jobs. I’m especially interested in what they’re responsible for and how they describe it. I’m looking for any indication of how their performance might be measured as well as their recent accomplishments. I also want to know how long they’ve been in this position and at their current companies.

2. Opportunities for a personal connection. Then, I scan their previous job histories so I can understand their career paths. I try to find out if they say anything specific that will allow me to have a more personal connection with them.

3. Potential for a referral. Speaking of connections, I always want to see if there’s an easy way for me to connect with them through a LinkedIn introduction.

4. Things in common. Next I’ll check out the groups they belong to and maybe even join one or two so that we will have something in common.

5. What’s important to them right now. Finally, I’ll look to see if they have any recent updates or comments. I want to know what’s important to them and what they’re talking about right now.

Armed with this information, I can decide whether they are the right people to talk with. If they are, I can make a decision about the best way to position my services and the best avenue to contact them.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.