LinkedIn is not just for job seekers. Yes it’s known as a great networking platform for corporate professionals, but there is a large community of solopreneurs and small business owners using LinkedIn too. Savvy entrepreneurs on LinkedIn are finding their audience, building credibility, and generating leads for their business. If your business provides a service or product to other solopreneurs or small business owners, LinkedIn can be a profitable platform for you. Or maybe you want to work with corporate professionals or get your services in front of big companies, you are missing a major opportunity to connect with your target audience if you are not on LinkedIn.
Bottom Line: If LinkedIn has been your least favorite social network, here are five reasons to give it a second look.
5 Reasons LinkedIn is a Goldmine for Your Business
1. Groups: LinkedIn will let you join up to 50 groups. Groups are micro-communities targeted around a niche, interest, or goal. Just like Facebook groups, there are some that are full of spammers. But there are other groups that are well moderated and very active and full of people looking to connect. They are asking questions, sharing information AND looking for referrals. (Check out the small but growing Launch While Working group on LinkedIn.)
2. Company Profiles: If you list your business under your experience, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to create a profile for your business. You can add a link to the website, list your services, and share updates to people who follow your company on LinkedIn (think Fan Pages for LinkedIn).
3. Recommendations: AKA instant credibility builders. Word of mouth marketing can get you in the door, even if you don’t have a website, a business card, or a blog. A great recommendation that highlights the quality of your work and the results you helped your clients get can work wonders. Your website is you telling people about your business. A recommendation is another living breathing person telling someone about how wonderful you are. And remember that your LinkedIn Recommendations don’t have to end on LinkedIn – grab those messages for testimonials and social proof on your blog, in your newsletters, or proposals.
4. Premium Accounts: Most people are familiar with the premium accounts for job seekers. But did you know that LinkedIn has a premium level account for Sales Professionals. You may not be in sales full-time, but if you are in a phase where generating leads for your business is the primary goal, I would upgrade immediately. You can create prospecting lists, send inmails (messages to people not directly in your network, and request introductions to companies you want to connect to.
5. LinkedIn Today: Part of building your brand and reputation online is staying on top of what’s happening in your niche or field. LinkedIn Today gives you a snapshot of what’s happening and news worth sharing with your network. Any tool that filters content for you based on your preferences is a huge time saver. You can “like, ” comment and share relevant content to your groups and network from this valuable page.
From Idea to Action: 7 Ways to Put LinkedIn to Work for Your Business
1. Invite the people you’ve met from face-to-face networking. If you’ve got business cards with email addresses – get started adding them to your network. Even if they are not LinkedIn members yet, you can still send them an invitation.
2. Join a group – join several groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn including alumni groups, groups for women, groups for specific industries, and more. Group members share information and opportunities, making this an excellent way to stay current with what’s going on in your field.
3. Ask and answer questions. The only way to get real benefits of any network, online or offline is to participate. If you need information, post a question to the group you’ve joined or send a direct email to someone in your network. If you have information don’t keep it to yourself. Share links to articles, events, tips, anything that might benefit someone else.
4. Use the recommendation tool. Have you worked with someone who did a great job (consider vendors as well as colleagues that you’ve worked with). Write a brief note of recommendation and post it to their profile. And don’t forget to ask your colleagues, clients, former managers, and others who know what you can do to you give you a recommendation.
5. Add a profile for your business. Don’t miss an opportunity to add a key word rich description of your company and the services you provide. Update your logo and link the profile to your website.
Note: If you are still incognito because of restrictions of your day job, you may not be able to use this feature. What I did: Once I had an exit strategy, I listed my business as a my current employer and moved my day job down on the list, eventually making it a past employer.
6. Set networking goals. Make a plan for how many new people you want to connect with week. And then decide how many of those connections you want to continue to build outside of LinkedIn. Will you respond to at least two discussions a week? Will you share at least one article every week? Having an idea of how you want to engage will keep you from trying to figure out where to start every time you log in.
7. Upgrade your account. Prospecting from your computer gets a whole lot easier when you’ve got the right platform and the right tool. You can spend 15 minutes a day looking for prospects and building strategic connections on using the Sales tools on LinkedIn and grow your business. Another thing to think about: Many companies ban Facebook for employees but they DO ALLOW LinkedIn. Remember part of what will make your social networking work is going where your target audience is.
Remember, just like any other networking endeavor – consistency and frequency are key. Does it feel like it’s slow going? Keep in mind the long term benefits of smartly building a credible and well connected network.
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Category: Building Your Network