And as LinkedIn is adding one new user per second, it’s becoming increasingly important for anyone to get on the bandwagon.
Why is LinkedIn a Great Business Tool?
LinkedIn has positioned itself as a place for getting down to business.
Unlike Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn offers a huge, active network of business focused professionals and this network should be a part of your small business social media marketing strategy.
For business-to-business networking, it’s a valuable tool.
While most of us understand by now that a LinkedIn presence can be very beneficial, many are still unsure how to utilize this powerful site to grow their professional network, gain more businesses and build brand awareness.
Which Step Are You On Now?
- Created an account – have you figured out your LinkedIn strategy yet?
- Filled-out some of the profile – are you stuck on what else to do and why?
- Made new connections – have you reached beyond friends and coworkers?
- Got all of the basics going – now asking what else can you do!
LinkedIn Marketing in 6 Easy Steps
1. Grow your 1st degree contacts
You won’t get anywhere without connections so growing your network is a #1 priority. It is relatively easy to build targeted connections.
To increase your vertical reach (your areas of interest, target audience, specific locations etc.), join every relevant LinkedIn group. To increase your horizontal (i.e. overall) reach, increase your number of LinkedIn connections.
LinkedIn offers you a very specific search tool, where you can plug in who you would like to be referred to based on geography, job title, name, etc. You can also check out the contacts of a specific user to see if there are any connections you are interested in.
Once you have found a few people you would like to be referred to, reach out to your mutual connection and ask them to introduce you. This is much more polite and effective than directly contacting a stranger, and you will likely have better results.
You can also connect with members of the same group (where your clients might hang out).
Remember, when building your connection pool, size matters, but quality still plays a dominant role.
2. Setup a Company Page
Are you aware that you can create a company page on LinkedIn, much like on Facebook? With 85 million business members, who wouldn’t want a business page there?
With a company page you can promote your services, share company news, post job announcements, showcase your recent work, etc. There’s video support, recommendations section, “Follow us on LinkedIn” button and even some basic analytics.
If you haven’t yet created your LinkedIn company page, simply click on Companies on the top navigation and then “Add Company”.
3. Become Active in, Then Create, Groups
LinkedIn Groups can help you stay informed and keep in touch with people who share your interest. Groups are also a great way to connect with your target audience.
There are small business groups, mommy groups, Chicago groups, photography groups, real estate groups – you name it. Whether you cater to small business owners in Boston or amateur photographers in Philly, you will find potential clients in an appropriate LinkedIn groups. Join those and start building relationships all while promoting your company/service.
While joining groups can be very beneficial, starting a group is a great way to have access to email and stay in touch with your group as it grows. Just keep in mind that growing and maintaining your group will take some focused effort.
4. Give, Then Ask For, Answers
Answering questions can be a great way of gaining exposure and growing your reputations. You are actively contributing to the growth of others and that will be noticed. By providing useful information to others you will improve your own reputation as an expert resource on select topics. You might even be considered a leader in your niche, a go-to person others will respect and want to connect to.
5. Broadcast Status Updates
Frequent content sharing is a quick way to show regular activity. Posting regular updates in your profile lets people in on the work you’re doing now, allows you to promote your services (directly or indirectly) and helps you grow your reputation and brand recognition.
Have you come across a interesting article, YouTube video or podcast related to your field? Link to it in your profile: It shows potential clients that you’re up to date on what’s going on in your industry.
6. Improve Your Profile With “Widgets”
A complete LinkedIn profile is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. It gives you credibility and should represent you and your business in a professional manner.
According to LinkedIn itself, a completed profile increases your chance of successful networking by 15 percent, meaning you have a greater chance of establishing connections, generating leads, and getting hired.
Make sure to complete it 100% and provide enough information to get noticed & differentiate you from the crowd.
SEO can help you to be findable on LinkedIn, as well as other social networking sites. Employ keywords that are relevant to your work when crafting your profile, so that you and your profile can appear in search results.
For example, there are three areas to add website links to your LinkedIn profile. Instead of displaying “My Blog” & “My Website,” click on Edit and then click on Other. Type in a keyword phrase that describes how people can search to find your business.
Once you done with the basic setup/optimization, which should include customizing your URL, extend your profile by incorporating various “widgets” and applications available.
With LinkedIn’s present set of apps, you can share presentations with SlideShare, show pictures of where you’ve traveled via Flickr, create events, and even cross-promote your blog through the BlogLink or WordPress feed app (utilizing your content marketing efforts).
In a nutshell, installing applications is a great way to make your profile stand out and gives you exciting ways to share content.
Your Weekly LinkedIn Marketing Plan
It takes a substantial amount of time to build a strong presence on LinkedIn or any of the other social networking sites. By designating a couple of hours a week you will be on your way to harnessing the power of this great marketing tool.
Here’s your weekly strategy:
- Enter a new status update to promote yourself, your brand, your blog, your company etc.
- Check your feed to see what’s happening in your network.
- Peruse through your Groups activity and see how you can add value (comment, start discussion)
- Make new connections by checking your contact’s contacts, reaching out to new group members, etc.
- Ask for a recommendation and/or give a recommendation.
- Browse through questions and see which you can answer (make it count – don’t just answer in few words).
- Thank your new connections with a personalized email (soft-promoting your company/services).
As a stand-alone tool, your LinkedIn profile can accomplish a great deal in broadcasting your service offering, spotlighting your accomplishments, defining your ideal client type and reinforcing your brand with compelling visuals. Via outbound links, your LinkedIn profile directs people to other places on the Internet – ultimately, to a page where a call to action awaits.
Di you have a LinkedIn success story? Have you created an account only to forget about it a week later or are you actually using LinkedIn to network and drive sales?