When talking to a new client about social media or indeed when training to a group of businesses on the subject, the one social network that I find most business people feel most comfortable with – and have therefore started to engage with (ie: created a profile) – is LinkedIn.
Often branded as ‘The Professionals’ Facebook’ – over the years LinkedIn has certainly had the reputation of being the business to business resource. And until recently, most research in the four main channels, Facebook, Twitter,YouTube and LinkedIn, identified this to be the case.
And of course, that makes perfect sense.
LinkedIn started out largely as a ‘recruitment resource' – a place where professionals could share their expertise and pitch for new ‘contracts’ or be head-hunted for positions. In fact, to date, the premium ‘paid for’ subscriptions are still largely the domain of recruitment consultants and head hunters wanting to make contact with highly targeted candidates.
I know a number of my friends and colleagues that have secured new roles, be they full-time or contract via LinkedIn – and so it works for that purpose, quite beautifully.
Of course, as with all of the networks – LinkedIn has evolved, and continues to evolve. Businesses can now create ‘Company Profiles’ – to showcase products and services – and also connect all employees. So, it’s no longer just about individuals showcasing their wares but instead, another space for businesses to promote their people and their products and services – with the itention to engage, to meet likeminded individuals via Groups and to grow authority via Answers.
How to use LinkedIn for Business
If I were to explain Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn very quickly – I would say this:
- Twitter is a perfect mouthpiece for sharing content and information and connecting and engaging with those that you have never met, nor would ever have had the opportunity to meet – due to location and time constraints. It’s perfect for capturing conversations and listening in and generating traction back to your website.
- Facebook is the perfect vehicle for creating a community – to engage current audiences and encourage them to market to new audiences via viral worthy campaigns and compelling content, providing the potential to grow audience and awareness. Creating a community of ‘fans or advocates’ – willing to share and engage with your brand or business.
Well, LinkedIn is quite different, LinkedIn is much more about self promotion (something not wholly advocated on Twitter or Facebook) and leveraging the contacts you already have. So, here are my
12 Tips for Leveraging LinkedIn for Business:
- Change your LinkedIn URL to your name. This way you have a public URL which you can promote and share on email footers or business cards – to showcase you. And be sure to add other URLs such as your Website, Blog or Twitter URL too. Consider this your ‘personal splashpage’ where people can find out everything about you that you wish them to know.
- Optimise your profile with relevant ‘Keywords’ as much as possible. This will help your profile to appear as high as possible on Google and LinkedIn searches. Keep your profile as ‘full as possible too – LinkedIn provide you with a gauge of ‘completeness’. Strive to be 100% complete.
- Create a Company Profile. If relevant – create a company profile which enables you to link all relevant team to the profile and also enables you to showcase your Products and Services. Again, ensure that you keyword optimise this area to ensure that you are picked up on relevant searches.
- Personalise all messages when inviting people to connect (don’t use the standard message). Research has shown that people are more likely to accept and appreciate the connection if you provide some personal context – eg: Great meeting you at ABC the other day – I’d like to keep in touch by connecting on LinkedIn.
- Endeavour to look at your Profile Page everyday or auto update your status via Twitter or Facebook. Every time you update your profile and show activity – you are ‘visible’. In the off-line world of networking there is a saying: Visibility + Credibility = Profitability. In simple terms – the more you are visible in your contacts’ minds the more they know what you are up to the more likely they are to contact you or think of you for a relevant reason – which may lead to business referral, hence profitability. Participation is key.
- Don’t attempt to spam or directly sell. People will disconnect with you faster than you know if they think you are just there to sell your wares. Think of offline networking, you wouldn’t start a partnership or conversation by trying to sell someone something – engage, listen and nurture your contacts – don’t spam them. If someone is specifically discussing something you have a solution for - then sure, engage - but listen in first - don't spam. Relevancy is key. I often get spammed about social media training - or do I want a marketing plan! Er no thanks - have you even bothered to look at my profile!
- Be targeted. You may want to promote a product or service directly into an audience. And the beauty of LinkedIn is that the demographic information is really very granular (more so on social networks than on any other medium). The Advanced Search feature gives you an idea of what you can drill down to beyond age and title. It may be that you consider running a LinkedIn Ad whereby you serve advertising to a highly targeted audience.
- Grow your authority. Join relevant groups and get involved in relevant discussions and share your knowledge. With groups you can add a new topic to garner opinion or advice. If there isn’t a relevant group for what you do – then you can easily create a group and then search for relevant contacts and people and invite them to that group. If you’re not directly connected to a person – then you can always ask one of your contacts that is connected to invite them. The ‘get introduced’ referral process is very powerful for that purpose. See the Groups tab to create a Group - and search Groups to find relevant groups.
- Review LinkedIn Answers (often overlooked in the More tab). This feature aggregates conversations and requests by other LinkedIn users. You can select questions based on sector and interest – and see relevant questions. If you participate and share your knowledge the ‘questioner’ may select you as ‘Best Answer’ – a badge which sits on your profile. Simple – and another thing for you to promote.
- Get recommendations. Asking contacts, colleagues, peers, clients, delegates etc for recommendations couldn’t be easier on LinkedIn. It’s a very simple process. Click your Profile and Recommendations and then you can simply select which contacts you want to get Recommendations from. There is research to say that those users with recommendations grow credibility and are more likely to get requests for advice and to be found in searches – and of course, you can use the recommendations in other marketing materials and on your website etc.
- Let your contacts know they can connect with you on LinkedIn. In Connections – you will see a link for Add Connections. On this page you have various options to connect with your contacts – including an option which is often missed – to invite your Outlook by uploaded a CSV list.
- Manage your contacts via LinkedIn. Now when I meet anyone and I get their business card – rather than it scurry about in the bottom of my bag for days, weeks or even months (until I forget the context of the connection) – I now instead, check out LinkedIn – see if they are on there and connect (sending a nice targeted message as point 4. Doing this means that I keep a constant database of contacts, if they change roles etc, I haven’t lost them – as they remain on LinkedIn, it’s just their role that has changed. In LinkedIn Updates (an email you can opt to receive each week or month advising you as to what’s been happening with your contacts – who they’ve connected with, new roles, accolades etc), I could even email that contact to congratulate them on their new role. Nice! Database management is often a headache – but via LinkedIn – time saving, life lasting and very low maintenance.
So – that’s it. My 12 tips for Leveraging LinkedIn – any other tips or tactics you may have, then please do share - always keen to hear more...
@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of online visibility - covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.
For marketing and social media advice – view the Carvill Creative Blog