LinkedIn is one of the most useful social networking sites for small businesses. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn provides a networking platform that is designed specifically for business professionals. If strategically used, LinkedIn can help you to increase your online presence, and boost your business in a number of ways. Having said that, you do have to put some effort into it – LinkedIn is most successful when you don’t treat it as a “set and forget” platform.
With LinkedIn you have access to a massive professional database, all at no or very little cost depending on the subscription you opt for. This means you can network with others in your industry or outside of it, participate in discussions, share ideas, offer solutions, find out what your target audience is saying, and even check out the competition.
LinkedIn can also be used to increase awareness of your brand, boost your reputation, generate leads, increase website traffic, promote specials, post articles, generate a following, seek out new employees or contracts, and get recommendations from happy clients.
It’s all about strategy
Using LinkedIn effectively involves more than just putting up a brief profile and a picture from your smartphone camera, and leaving it alone. To make the most of it, you need a strategic plan.
Before beginning, decide on your purpose in using LinkedIn. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to network, to generate more leads, increase awareness of your brand, attract new clients – or all of the above and more?
If you don’t set goals and a schedule of activities to achieve them, you are more likely to put in more time and effort than you need to, without necessarily getting the outcome you want. Determine your strategy, and make sure you get to know how to measure your activities through LinkedIn tools.
Making the most of LinkedIn
Learn how to use the platform properly and keep up to date with new features, always post top-quality content, maintain your site regularly, and measure your success.
- Start by creating a complete, honest, positive, and well-written profile that describes your business and the solutions you provide. Your profile should contain appropriate targeted keywords to provide you with good search engine rankings. Keywords should appear very natural in the text and not look as if they have been stuck on as an afterthought. If you are unsure of how to go about this, get a SEO expert and / or a professional content writer to help you.
- Include your experiences, how your business started, your passions, interests and other interesting insights. While you don’t want to get too personal on LinkedIn, you still want to engage with other human beings rather than machines.
- Include a professional-quality photo, one that promotes a business-like and positive image of you. A happy snap of you in your PJs with bed hair might be fun for Facebook, but is probably not the most suitable option here.
- If appropriate, add slide-shares, videos, and links to interesting websites or articles.
- Consider creating your own URL by clicking on the site-generated URL under your photo, and editing it so it’s personal to your business, and easy to remember.
- Provide links back to your main website or specific landing pages. However, one of the great things about LinkedIn is its value as it is, and not just as a pointer to elsewhere.
- Join appropriate professional groups – there are literally thousands of them on LinkedIn and the number is growing daily – or start your own. However take time to listen as well as talk!
- To initiate a discussion, try posting a question rather than a statement, to get the conversational ball rolling.
- Learn how to segment your followers so that you can reach your target audience when posting.
- Ask people to recommend you if they are happy with your service. These could possibly be used as testimonials on your main site.
- Make use of page analytics to track your marketing progress. This enables you to determine what is working and what is not. Also, do your own analytics by checking out which posts have the most activity such as ‘likes’ and comments.
LinkedIn can be a very useful resource for networking, and boosting your business. Learn how to strategically make use of this resource and you may find your business getting more of the attention it deserves!