Using LinkedIn for business might seem obvious, but actually doing it well can be a challenge. By now you have probably noticed that it seems just about everyone is on LinkedIn. In fact, the most recent statistics from LinkedIn indicate that there are over 364 million users.
But the status of being a "User" can be deceptive. In fact, the vast majority of businesses and professionals on LinkedIn have either never fully engaged with the social business network, or tried some things only to leave off frustrated and disillusioned.
But it needn't be that way.
7 Things You Can Do to Leverage LinkedIn for Business
The real problem is not with LinkedIn. According to Marisa Smith of The Whole Brain Group,
"LinkedIn is the social network that everyone uses and no one uses well. Twitter and Facebook come naturally enough to most people, and after some practice most companies do a decent job using those platforms.
But LinkedIn is a different beast. It’s social, but it’s professional. You’re connecting for business purposes, but you shouldn’t try to sell too much. At first glance, it looks like an online resume, but it really isn’t."
The key is to first grasp that LinkedIn is a platform that will allow you and your company to create awareness of your product or service, engage with your clients, customers, and prospects, and build a community of advocates and allies.
Not to mention it's great for finding talent and generating new business!
Seven tactics to improve your presence on Linkedin:
1. Optimize your profile
This is one of the main places to shine! Your image should be somewhat professional, preferably a nice headshot, and high quality. If your image is poor (or missing!) it will reflect on you and your business in the minds of other users. Because your profile information needs to be optimized for search engines you should:
- Include relevant keywords throughout your profile information
- Use a keywords in a headline specific to your company or profession
- Include links to your company website and social media accounts
- Regularly update your profile content
2. Try to get Recommendations
The way LinkedIn is structured it is very easy to give and receive Endorsements. But the problem is that these can be given by any connection without any real knowledge of you or your skills. Recommendations, on the other hand, are provided by people who know you and really having something good to write about you, your company, or your abilities. Be a giver here, too, and don't be shy about asking for them.
3. Make connections properly
Without connections you will be a lonely face in a sea of users. But simply clicking on the "Connect" button is not only lazy, but it is impersonal and can reflect badly on you. Take time to craft a simple, but heart-felt request. People will respond and they will appreciate that you did so. Remember that you connections on LinkedIn are not just numbers - they are real people.
4. Reach out and really connect
Connections are a gift and an opportunity. Far too many users simply work to pile up numbers and never follow up with most, if any, of their newly made connections. This can be done by hitting the "Like" button on their posts, commenting on the same, or both. An occasional message or InMail is a great way to nurture relationships, and they reflect well on you and your company. Make it a habit to reach out to a few people every week.
5. Update your status regularly
Too many users set up their accounts, fill it with relevant information, and then seemingly walk away. The maxim "Out of sight, out of mind." applies painfully well to LinkedIn. It really is easy to post occasionally and keep yourself visible to your connections while giving something of value. According to Marisa Smith, "A good guideline is to post one article per week and a few short updates per day."
One formula is to post your article once a week to all your groups on different days. Share articles you think each group will find interesting on different days. Comment on what others write or have a discussion going once a week. Hootsuite is a good platform to automate posting your own article and sharing an article. When you are commenting, go to LinkedIn and just comment on a few groups' articles a day.
6. Try your hand at using LinkedIn Pulse
On your LinkedIn post box you will see a pencil icon on the far right with the words "Publish a post." Click it and you will go to a page for "Your Posts." Here you can write something fresh or integrate one of your favorite blog posts along with your pictures.There are a number of benefits from making use of LinkedIn's "Publish a Post" option:
- Brand awareness and reputation-the more you publish your articles and get your audience's attention, the more you are increasing your brand awareness and reputation as an expert. One article that takes a long time to get views on your blog can easily get hundreds of views using LinkedIn Pulse.
- More viewers and potential leads-if you have great copy, it will be shared and you will get likes as well as new followers.
- Link to your website-while publishing these articles you have the opportunity to drive traffic to your website. Companies using LinkedIn Pulse have seen a jump in website visitors. Just be sure to link your post to your website, blog or even a landing page.
Using LinkedIn for business is a "must have" - not an option
With so many individuals and companies signing up for LinkedIn (almost 8,000 every hour) it's bad business not being there. But just "being there" is not enough. As with any good tool, you must learn the basics of using it well and proficiently to realize the benefit of it.
If you are considering getting help with your company's marketing efforts, it is helpful to have the insights of a third-party, a marketing professional, to assess and assist with your strategy.
BroadVision Marketing offers helpful information on how to use LinkedIn. You can get free advice during your Free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session which will help you learn more about LinkedIn and its place in Inbound Marketing. You can also call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.
Jaco Grobbelaar is the owner and CMO of BroadVision Marketing. BroadVision Marketing works with business owners to put in place inbound and outbound marketing strategies that consistently secure new clients. The BroadVision Marketing Training Center is located in Petaluma, CA and primarily serves companies in the San Francisco Bay area.