What is LinkedIn? How to Use LinkedIn for Your Business
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site launched in 2003 and is primarily focused on professional networking. Registered users maintain a list of people –referred to as connections – whom they know and trust in a professional or business capacity. LinkedIn incorporates a “gated-access” approach whereby any contact with another professional requires a pre-existing relationship, a shared connection or an introduction from a shared connection. This level of privacy has led to its popularity amongst professionals. Additionally, it can be used to demonstrate your business’ competence and expertise, thereby establishing the integrity upon which businesses depend.
How to Use LinkedIn for Your Business
Many businesses are using LinkedIn in expected ways: to find leads, grow their business or to find the best vendors. Here are some additional objectives for your business’ LinkedIn presence:
- Network with peers –LinkedIn is a powerful medium for finding peers in your respective industry to network with and find complementary businesses with which to share referrals.
- Improve your Google page rank –You can make your LinkedIn profile available for search engines to index. Generally, LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high page rank in Google; this is an outstanding way to influence what customers see when they search for you.
- Increase your credibility –By adding connections, you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first when they are searching for someone to hire or do business with. Remember: people would much rather work with a business that their friends know and trust.
To complement these objectives, there are also strategies marketers often incorporate for LinkedIn. Let’s discuss some strategies that will help you and your business get the most value out of LinkedIn.
Brand Your LinkedIn Profile
It is important that your LinkedIn profile truly represents your brand. Ensure that you create a profile for your company spokesperson, such as your president, from which all corporate messages are distributed. Subsequently, your company staff members can create individual LinkedIn profiles and associate themselves as employees of your company. Also make sure you change your LinkedIn profile URL from the default setting to your name. Customising your LinkedIn URL helps people easily find you when they search for your name in LinkedIn or on Google and other search engines.
Lastly, you will need to upload a profile picture. Because the very nature of LinkedIn is centred on professionalism, it is best that the picture you choose to represent you is professional as well! Remember: this picture will likely be viewed by your customers, co-workers, industry peers and your competition. It’s important to use a picture that is clear, professional and current.
Create Your Own LinkedIn Group
In addition to your profile, you may also want to create your own LinkedIn group. Groups are an excellent way to generate connections directly related to your company or industry. Keep in mind, however, that groups are not the avenue in which to sell your product or service. Think of it as a medium where you can generate discussions by sharing thoughts, ideas and showcasing your expertise on business-related subjects. Some groups you can create might include a group specifically for those who have done business with you or a group based on your company’s service or product.
Groups offer valuable networking opportunities for members, who gain access to resources and information that can be beneficial to their careers. Here are 7 tips for increasing the effectiveness and reach of your LinkedIn group:
- Establish ground rules. Easily allow new members to acquaint themselves with your group. Include community contacts, encourage informational posts in appropriate sections and specify appropriate conduct.
- Deal with the good AND the bad! Encourage member participation and highlight valuable contributions to the group. Negative and counterproductive behaviour from a member also gives you the opportunity to gauge opinions and to respond accordingly and professionally.
- Help group members promote themselves. Facilitate a group that welcomes new expertise and knowledge sharing. Your group can become the go-to forum for customers looking for knowledgeable answers and solutions.
- Add news feeds. By adding the RSS feeds of your blog or other blogs, you keep a steady stream of content available for group members to discuss.
- Establish connections outside of LinkedIn. After being active in your group, members may naturally wish to connect with you elsewhere on the Internet or offline.
- Take a poll. Use LinkedIn’s polls application to get feedback from your members on groups features and functionality.
- Promote your group. Invite others in your network to join, encourage members to invite their colleagues and highlight your group to other non-competing groups.
Use LinkedIn Advertising
The advertising channel offered by LinkedIn allows you to find the perfect audience for your business with highly-targeted text advertising. Essentially, it is a self-service advertising solution that allows you to create and place ads on prominent LinkedIn pages. Additionally, LinkedIn ads allow you to:
- Specify which LinkedIn members view your ads by selecting a target audience.
- Target your ads to LinkedIn members in over 50 countries including North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Pay by clicks or impressions for as little as €10
- Leverage the power of LinkedIn by using your professional brand to put a face to your company.
Give and Receive Recommendations
Fundamentally, recommendations are endorsements for your skills, which you can exhibit in your profile. Because of LinkedIn’s professional focus, recommendations make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic and personal than the static information that appears in your resume. Recommendations, which you must seek out and approve from connections, give your network a fuller view of you as a potential person or company with whom to do business.
It’s a good idea to give and ask for recommendations. Recommend those who you believe are worthy before they request one. Often, they will return the favour. Peer recommendations help shape your image with potential customers and colleagues. In addition, seek out recommendations from satisfied customers; this is excellent word-of-mouth endorsement, which may help you acquire new customers.