Two hundred and twenty five million members (and counting) build their professional network and engage new business connections on LinkedIn. The social networking website is one of the most powerful and popular networking tools available to business professionals.
LinkedIn’s intrinsic marketing potential for small businesses is unparalleled. But how can you best utilize LinkedIn to build your professional network and your company? We asked business leaders to share how they utilize LinkedIn for business and here’s what they had to say:
1. Join targeted LinkedIn groups.
“Join groups on LinkedIn that your prospects are involved in by industry [and] specialty. Find the CEOs and Owners in the group and send them connection requests. Don’t say much about yourself at all. They will have to look at your profile when they review the connection request and they will find out about what you do when they review your profile.”
2. Share unique content on LinkedIn.
“Many companies believe they should only post content that is company news or sales [related]. If you [own a] web design company, share relevant articles and tips about your industry. If you are a lawn care company, offer advice about different flower landscapes for each season. People will tune you out if your company’s LinkedIn page is playing the ‘Me Show’ all the time. You’re the expert; keep your customer base informed and give them something they can use.”
3. Don’t forget about LinkedIn keywords.
“This is especially true for the skills and description areas [of your profile]. Those skills are each a keyword that can help people find you. Also create keyword rich descriptions of what you do to build on that once visitors hit your profile page.”
4. Remember LinkedIn Group etiquette.
“The most important way to get in front of your potential customer base on LinkedIn is by joining relevant groups and networking with decision makers in those respective groups. [But] it is ill-advised to stand in front of the group with a megaphone and spew self-promotional marketing fluff. As with all social networks, you want to build relationships with those you interact with. Be ready and prepared to address issues and questions that [develop] through these groups.”
5. Don’t over-promote yourself in LinkedIn discussions.
“Pay attention to what group members ask for, and reply privately to those who might benefit from your services. Joining groups will increase your connection opportunities, but please don’t automatically connect with everyone so you can bombard them with messages. Be sure you contribute to the group by sharing information.”
6. Remove the generic LinkedIn “request” text.
“Don’t miss an opportunity to authentically communicate, even while sending a ‘request to connect.’ Delete the generic text and think of this request as your first impression, your entrance. Are you clever, bold, and memorable in your invitation, reminding the prospect how you met and [offering] a positive interaction you had or a mutual connection? Be unique at all touch points on LinkedIn.”
7. Dig deep into LinkedIn’s resources.
“I use LinkedIn on a daily basis to network and develop leads and referrals for the company. One way I do this is by joining LinkedIn Groups (I’m in 33 groups) and actively engage in discussions with other group members and professionals. This helps develop relationships with other professionals (some that are business owners) and build credibility for you and the business. I also take advantage of the profile links, connections, likes, commenting on [others’ posts], status updates, and most recently the question & answer section of LinkedIn. My business also has an official company page on LinkedIn complete with a company profile and an explanation of our services. Being actively engaged on LinkedIn has worked for us and the best thing about it is: it’s free.”
8. Utilize LinkedIn for post-event follow-up.
“As a small business owner that has had a lot of success with LinkedIn, I believe it’s about connecting. After every event that I attend (online or offline), I search for the people I met and connect with them via LinkedIn. I send them a personal message about our interaction. Then I take it a step further and see if there’s anyone that I can recommend to them, any way that I can help connect them further. Taking this extra step really makes me stand out and become memorable.”
9. Communicate informally on LinkedIn.
“If you come on too strongly, [others will] often automatically think of you only as someone trying to sell something. Creating casual, specialized messages to target your audience will help keep you in the ‘friend zone.’ ”
10. Give before you ask for favors on LinkedIn.
“Participate in high quality, active groups and share your expertise by answering questions and sharing your articles, e-books, works, or anything that helps other people. Get recommendations from clients who have done business with you. Complete your profile with a track record of high achievements, including [a] portfolio.”