LinkedIn is THE social media site for business, especially in the field of B2B (business-to-business). Through LinkedIn you can promote your personal brand, network with professionals and sponsor your company brand. Through recent changes, LinkedIn has incorporated comments and like functions similar to Facebook which invokes even further social interaction.
The Personal LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is like a virtual CV. You list your education, skills, work experience, awards and accolades. This is a great feature because it allows you to brag about yourself without actually bragging. Additionally people can endorse you for skills, which is essentially them bragging about you on their behalf. This function is of course meant to be reciprocated, so don’t hesitate to endorse your fellow connections.
Tips for Your Profile
• Upload a recognisable profile pic If you can try to use the same photo you use across all of your social media efforts. This increases the likelihood of connections finding and recognising you.
• Ensure you incorporate keywords and key phrases in your descriptions. This streamlines connecting with other industry-related individuals.
• Through your profile you can also post information on projects you’re involved with as well as anything related to your craft. Try to post at least once a day.
• Your profile is a great way to promote your other social media efforts, so ensure you include links to your Twitter, Facebook, blog etc.
• You can customise your public LinkedIn URL to include your name in it. This makes finding your profile by the public as easy as possible.
• Your profile should be seen as a powerful business tool, and for this exact reason do not waste your profile space with trivial information about yourself. Keep it strictly business.
Import connections from your email account using the “add connections tool”. Your connections that are subscribed LinkedIn users will appear under the “import connections” tab. Find classmates, fellow students, work colleagues and users that share your interests by using the tools that LinkedIn provides for these categories. The idea is to connect with the people you know, in order to eventually branch out and connect with the people that you’re connections are connected to.
Beware: When requesting to connect with someone LinkedIn creates a generic “I would like to add you to my professional network” message, do not use it. Create your own personal message for each person. Keep in mind that this may sometimes be the very first impression of you and the last thing you want to do is spoil that impression with a robot-like introduction. When you gain a new connection it is a good idea to message them personally. The message does not need to be elaborate, a simple ‘nod of the hat’ message should do. Practicing good LinkedIn etiquette goes a long way.
Tip: When constructing your introductory message try stating what you have in common with that person or where you previously met.
You should constantly be building up your LinkedIn Network; the bigger your network the more exposure for your brand. For every connection on LinkedIn you become indirectly linked to thousands more. This means that by connecting with just a couple of people through LinkedIn can result in potentially being connected with thousands more.
Set up a schedule for your LinkedIn activities, which should include networking and posting of your own content. This is vital in ensuring your LinkedIn profile is constantly and consistently growing.
The Company LinkedIn Profile
With the LinkedIn Companies directory, your company can be “followed” by users who want to stay up-to-date with your activities. By clicking on the company menu tab, you will be able to create a company page, provided that you have been given permission to be the LinkedIn representative for your company.
Create you’re company page: Here you will be required to add an overview of your company, list your products, services as well as career paths within your business. On this page you have the opportunity to tell your company’s story. This should include a short history, company goals and your company’s specific approach to business. Search and connect to other companies relating to your own in any way. Follow a strategy for regularly posting status updates of interesting news about your company, for example specials, competitions, new arrivals, new innovations and technology.
LinkedIn for Sales
LinkedIn is also a powerful prospecting tool that if practiced correctly can completely replace your current prospecting process/methods. In fact LinkedIn can be used to for every level of the sales cycle, from follow up, to lead management, prospecting and everything in-between. There are some powerful sales features like premium search and lead builder that can streamline your entire sales function.
Joining a group gives you an opportunity to engage directly with your target audience as well as experts within your industry. This is inbound-content based marketing for yourself and your company.
Important factors to consider when starting up your own group: first of all construct a mission statement. Your mission statement should address the target audience that you wish to attract and it should portray the value that one would gain from joining the specific group. It is important to name your group appropriately. Do not make your company’s name the group name – as groups are about discussing valuable content, and not about selling yourself directly. Therefore, you should place a logo with the name bearing design elements that are consistent with your own company logo, and not your company logo itself.
Manage your group effectively and vigilantly. Advertise your group on Twitter and Facebook. Keep group policies in mind and create your own policies under “group rules”, and as mentioned earlier, be on the look-out for irrelevant posts, inappropriate comments and spammy link-stuffing. You need to assume leadership by proactively starting conversations, posting relevant and timely news, and quickly reacting to the discussions and questions of others.
This can be done in a time-effective manner by pre-scheduling some activities and utilising LinkedIn’s feature that allows group managers to receive updates about new discussions and comments as they happen.
Upgrading your LinkedIn account provides you with numerous features and is one of those upgrades where you actually get more than you paid for. I especially like the InMail message function which allows you to contact someone with a guarantee that your message will be received.
Of all the social media networks, LinkedIn is by far the most business orientated. LinkedIn has multiple opportunities to build communities, establish expertise, connect with other users and promote your content. LinkedIn has the greatest potential for B2B and if used correctly will generate strong leads.
The best part of it all is that it only takes a couple minutes a day to make it work for you.
Previous article in the series: An Introduction to Twitter; Next article in the series: E-mail Marketing
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