If you’re selling to other businesses, then LinkedIn is your social media network.
You don’t even need to waste time on Facebook or Twitter unless you have LinkedIn up-and-running.
Because the people on LinkedIn are the ones who buy. According to LinkedIn:
- 64% of members agree that LinkedIn helps develop relationships and grow business
- Members are 2x more confident in the information found on LinkedIn than any other site.
LinkedIn can help you with everything from generating awareness, to getting qualified leads.
Here are 3 ways to start using LinkedIn to grow your business today.
1. Optimize your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile has replaced your resume.
So it better be updated and complete to give an accurate portrayal of who you really are professionally.
Besides the obvious stuff like using a good picture and making sure your work experience is complete, there’s a few other features that you need to be aware of.
The first is to use accurate, descriptive keywords for (1) what you do, and (2) where you do it. Because when people use the “Search” function, they’re most likely going to start with job titles and locations.
This is like the old days of SEO. You need to use your keywords – where appropriate – in your tagline, current and past occupations, summary, etc., etc. Don’t go overboard, but focus on being “completely descriptive” to give yourself a better chance. You should also make sure that links (like “My Website”) are changed to the actual brand name or keyphrase that you identify with.
LinkedIn also gives you the ability to extend your “virtual resume” with 3rd-party applications. You can (and should) connect your blog, show presentations with the SlideShare app, share sales or press kits with Box.com, etc.
Using these apps will help you present more information about yourself to interested parties and also differentiate you from other alternatives.
Groups are a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals.
You can join small, close knit private communities and have engaging discussions. Or you can join the larger, well known groups and expand your reach.
Either way, they’re an effective way of meeting new people who could potentially be business partners one day.
So start by joining groups you identify with, and may already be a part of offline. For example, re-connect with your old classmates by joining your alma mater’s alumni group. It’s a great way to reestablish old relationships and catch up on what everyone is up to.
You should also take advantage of the ability to share content with your groups. You can get inbound traffic back to your site, and create a discussion around what’s going on. This helps develop you as a thought-leader and can earn you respect from your peers.
Finally, you can also create your own group around your business or related topic that you’re passionate about. You can use this group to continue deepening relationships with your customers and developing leads. But these groups also give you the ability to notify members. So by getting new members, you can increase your reach and develop new ties in other areas.
LinkedIn is a great way to make one-on-one connections with other people. But don’t be the guy (or gal) who tries to connect with everyone they can. You’re just wasting your time.
This is like the modern-day equivalent of cold calling. Your hit rate will be so low that it’s probably not even worth the effort.
Instead, try to connect with others that you actually might do business with (shocking, right?) 🙂
And LinkedIn gives you two great ways to do that:
- Make (and ask for) recommendations: Testimonials and recommendations are a great way to show social proof and lower people’s suspicions. If other trustworthy, reputable people are giving you their blessing, than you must be trustworthy and reputable too!
- Make (and ask for) introductions: Spend some time looking through your extended network of people – the 2nd and 3rd connections – and find interesting people you may be able to help (or might be able to help you). Then scroll to the bottom of their profile and use the little link that says “Get introduced through a connection”.
Forget about cold-connections, and focus on getting warm connections with recommendations and introductions.
And remember the golden rule. If you want people to make introductions and recommendations for you, then start by first giving some out to others.
Because LinkedIn can be a great way to reach new people and find qualified leads. But don’t forget that it’s still a “social” network. Just because it’s online networking doesn’t mean that manners and old-rules don’t apply.
Treat other people with respect and help them out, because they’ll do the same when you need it.