Have you considered using LinkedIn to benefit your small business? If not, you may want to reconsider.
“LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 238 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. Sixty-five percent of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States. And there are over 30 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn,” representing LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic, according to company reports.
The social network provides entrepreneurs unprecedented opportunities to build new relationships, so we asked entrepreneurs to reveal how to best use LinkedIn for business development and here’s what they had to say:
1.Don’t ignore the ‘people you may know’.
“To use LinkedIn effectively for your small business, don’t ignore the “People You May Know” suggestions. In business, word of mouth is key. Any connections you can make with friends of friends, friends of colleagues, etc. can prove to be very beneficial; hopefully they can convert into business opportunities.”
– Amy Smith, M.S.Ed., College Consultant and EICA member at Collegesphere, @AmySchmidtSmith
2. Communicate authentically.
“[Respond] to connection requests with an authentic response. I look at the company profile before I respond and then start my message out asking how I can help them. I finish with giving a brief overview on what my company does. This has resulted in a bunch of new business and is less time consuming than in-person networking events.”
– Michele Smith, CEO of M Communications/M Com Publishing, @mcommunications
3. Follow-up with in-person meetings using LinkedIn.
“Anytime you meet a new person at a conference, event, through a friend, etc. — reach out to them on LinkedIn and connect, but don’t use the default message that LinkedIn provides. Tell them it was nice to meet them, remind them where you met, and ask them a follow-up question. This will ensure you can start to build a relationship with them rather than just ‘collecting’ contacts.”
– Laurie Morse-Dell, Owner of Pup’s Place, LLC, @PupsPlace
4. Actively participate in LinkedIn Groups.
“Become an active participant in relevant LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are where users gather to discuss the topics they are most interested in, so you know that the members of the groups relevant to your business are already interested in whatever you have to offer. If you can establish yourself as an expert by providing quality content, leaving insightful comments, and answering other group members’ questions, then it won’t be long before you start receiving inquiries.”
– Cate Costa, Founder of Venture Catalyst Consulting, @cate_costa
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