30th January 2015

Teamwork,holding hand,handshake,business background

LinkedIn started from the living room of Reid Hoffman, one of the founders in 2002.  The site officially launched in 2003 with 4,500 members.  It is now the biggest professional network on the internet and can boast more than 332 million members, with a sign up rate of 2 people per second.

Many people think of LinkedIn as a recruitment platform, but it is also a great tool to promote your business, generate referrals, stay in touch with business associates and showcase your talents.  Below I shall be exploring how you can make the most of LinkedIn for your business.

Make sure your profile is complete and up to date

This is basically your CV so make sure it up to date, you have filled out all the relevant information and includes a good picture of you, when going to a networking event you want people to be able to recognise you instantly so make sure it is a recent picture and one that represents you the way you would wish to be perceived in business.  The job title section is your opportunity to say a little bit about yourself.   When contributing to groups or discussions this can be the only bit of information available so write something which is going to make people want to have a look at you, but be professional.  Add links to your company website and Twitter profiles if you have them so visitors have access to more information.

Set up a company page

Company pages are a fantastic way to increase visibility and show off your products and services.  As with your personal profile make sure you include a link to your other marketing platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as well as including a link to your website. Tell visitors exactly what you do and what you can offer them.  Make sure you use keywords in your company description to optimize your page for SEO.  Think about who is your ideal target audience and make your page relevant for them.  Post content regularly and ask your staff to share it or like it to give you more enhanced visibility.

Build your network

This is possibly LinkedIn’s biggest strength in that it can basically be used as an online rolodex for all of your contacts.  Most businesses I speak to tell me that the majority of their work comes from referrals, so the more people you know the greater the chances of getting referred.

Whenever I go to an event or have a meeting I always connect with that person or the people I have met on LinkedIn afterwards.  It is a great way to stay in touch and build your network.  If you want to make contact with someone that you are not connected with you will often find that you may have a connection in common who can facilitate and introduction, which is an excellent way to breakdown the traditional barriers that can be in place when you are making a direct sales approach.  I know many businesses that do almost all of their lead generation through LinkedIn.

When asking someone to connect don’t use the LinkedIn generated text, write them a personal message saying where you met as this gives makes the approach more personal and makes it twice as likely they will remember you.

Groups

Joining groups is a great way of both expanding your network and learning more about specific industry topics. Contributing to groups is a great way of raising your profile on LinkedIn and showing off your knowledge base to other people.  It is also a good way of keeping up to date on what is going on within your sector. If there is not a group for your industry then start one and invite people to contribute.  Have a look at the groups that your customers might be looking at and if you can demonstrate that you are a thought leader within this area then it is likely you may attract new customers through this avenue.

Posting content

Posting informative, useful content will help you get noticed on LinkedIn.  I often connect with someone who adds value to me and whose posts I find interesting.  It is a great way of sharing professional expertise, but it also gives you a platform to ask questions of fellow professionals.

Recommendations

Remember potential clients could be looking at your LinkedIn page so the more recommendations you have the better.  In the same way that you would add testimonials to your website to show off your services to your clients, you should ask people to recommend you on LinkedIn.  It adds weight to your profile and will strengthen your case when buyers are doing their own due diligence.  The next time someone offers you a testimonial ask them if they could also add one to your LinkedIn page.

Written by Tom Bircham, Senior Business Events Advisor

 

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