LinkedIn has evolved from a little known website used as a place for job seekers to a more and more popular networking hub which has gained a positive reputation for helping businesses gain clients.
LinkedIn can be used for some many reasons such as business development, sales, marketing, hiring, recruiting, advice, job hunting and much more.
While Facebook and Twitter are great social media platforms that many small businesses have already started using, relatively little has been heard about the power of LinkedIn. Yet this professional network should be a part of your small business social media marketing plan.
It’s main appeal? LinkedIn is business focused, provides the opportunity to connect with millions of people and allows its users to participate in conversations by joining groups.
9 Steps to a Winning LinkedIn Strategy
Who Will You Connect With?
Who do you connect with beyond your coworkers, family and friends?
Start by asking yourself who you with to network with, what is your niche market and where do you find it? By answering these questions you will understand what types of contacts you need to seek out. Once you have made your initial connections, you can search your contact’s networks and request to be introduced.
Only add connections that are relevant to you and your business: perfect prospects, people you can learn from or those who can provide you with another connection or new business. Meaningless connections are just that, meaningless.
What Are Your Goals?
Figure out what your LinkedIn objectives are. Are you participating to gain business recognition? Are you participating to grow your network and build client list? Having a clear understanding as to why you have signed up for an account in the first place will help you achieve your ultimate goal.
Build a Great Profile
Your profile gives you credibility and should represent you and your business in a professional manner. Make sure to provide enough information to get noticed and differentiate you from the crowd.
Don’t forget to use SEO to your advantage. LinkedIn is a highly respected website by Google and LinkedIn profiles can rank high in SERPs. Attract further traffic by including key phrases Google users will be looking for.
Social media is all about building relationships, creating trust and helping others. Get to know the people in your network. Don’t just accept connection requests. Reply to those invites and learn about this new person. Likewise, try to send a genuine request instead of the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network” message when reaching out to new people. It will make you appear more human and less business-like.
Share great content, news and articles consistent with your brand. Use the “Network Status Update” feature often as a tool for sharing information, offering advice, posting company announcements, links to your recent blog articles etc.. The size of your network is valuable ONLY IF you’re communicating with that network on an ongoing basis.
Be a real person and let people know the real you. Being genuine opens many opportunities. Marketing jargon will surely close them.
LinkedIn groups can be very effective in building your brand, connecting with other professionals who share your interests and generating traffic to your website/blog. Once you join a relevant group you can participate in discussions and connect with its members. When you contribute to discussions and add your professional opinion you establish yourself as a professional and put yourself in front of potential clients.
Linkedin Groups have become very popular over the past six months – whatever your interests you’re sure to find at least one active group. There are industry-specific groups, trade and professional organization groups, college/alumni groups, location-specific groups, personal interest groups – find one relevant to your business and connect.
LinkedIn offers a great feature everyone should utilize – recommendations. This is a powerful feature because of the social proof that endorsements provide. You can request recommendations from past employers, co-workers, clients and of course the more, the better.
Another unique feature of LinkedIn you should be using is “Answers” (similar to Yahoo Answers). Answer questions posted there as often as you can this. This will help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and get yourself noticed by more people. Once you’re noticed by more people on LinkedIn, they’ll start connecting with you, eventually recommending you, and telling their connections about you, thereby growing your network.
Stay active on an ongoing basis. Do a little something every day – 10 or 15 minutes, or at least several times a week. Consistent, frequent communication and activity keeps you “on the radar” screen of your network.
Backup Your Contacts
LinkedIn allows you to export your connection details to an Excel spreadsheet, a feature you should be using. If you don’t, you are at the mercy of LinkedIn – if they ban you or their business model changes you may loose access to this vital information instantly. To backup, simply click “export connection” link located on the bottom of your connections page.
LinkedIn can be a terrific resource for your business if used properly. Of all of the social networking websites, LinkedIn, may be the most beneficial to your business because of its entirely professional nature.