Life is so unfair. Just because they’re shinier, Twitter and Facebook often scoop up the attention for being social networking powerhouses. And they are! However, if you’re a small business owner, you also need to be paying attention to LinkedIn.
Over the past few years, LinkedIn has proven itself to be a legitimate business tool for many, helping SMB owners to develop and nurture targeted opportunities. And if the numbers of “friend requests” in my inbox are any indication, the strength of the site isn’t decreasing. In fact, it’s growing.
There are lots of opportunities for SMB owners to leverage LinkedIn to build traffic, branding, authority and even their real life Rolodex. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use and create opportunities with the site.
Establishing Expertise: Unlike some of the other social networks, LinkedIn lets you establish credibility solely as a professional in your field. By filling out your profile, listing your affiliations, displaying references, participating in Groups and answering questions through the Q&A, you time and time again brand yourself as someone who knows their stuff. By being consistent, you establish yourself as the “go-to” person for that subject area. It’s great for personal branding, but it also puts you in their top of mind the next time they need someone in your field. Its hard to get that qualified branding anywhere else.
Share Content: There are lots of ways to share content via LinkedIn, but you need to be sure to do it in a way that adds to whatever discussion you’re part of. There’s very little tolerance (read: none) for business owners who come in self-promoting or trying to sell to other members. However, SMB owners can share content by including links in their status updates, linking to relevant posts during Group discussions or while answering LinkedIn Questions. You can also share and organize content by taking advantage of some of the Widgets that LinkedIn allows members to use on their profiles, like the ones from WordPress and SlideShare. It’s worth remembering that people looking for content on LinkedIn, are actually interested in it. They’re not talking about what they had for lunch or casually passing by. They’re there for a reason.
Do Some Market Research: If you don’t mind the occasional sales pitch, the LinkedIn Answers area offers SMB owners a fairly cost effective way to get some knowledge transfer, talk out ideas, and even hold mini focus groups! In the past, I’ve watched SMB owners collect market research, demo new sites/tools, ask for advice on how to do something more cost effectively, and just throw out early stage product questions. Because everyone on the site is business oriented, most are very willing to help one another out (especially if helps them look like the expert in the group).
Keep Top of Mind: By strategically updating your LinkedIn status (similar to a Facebook status) you’re able to link out to upcoming events, blog post, podcasts or even just your site. It helps you keep your name and your business on top of mind for all of your contacts. A lot of folks update their LinkedIn profile once and then just leave it to collect dust. People who invest in the site and continually update it with fresh content stand out.
Get Easy Introductions: LinkedIn offers SMB owners a great opportunity to meet people relevant to them with their powerful search options. Business owners can search by profession, geographic area, associations and even interest to locate new contacts. One thing I really like about LinkedIn is that it also makes introductions easy once you do find someone. LinkedIn will tell you how far Person X is outside of your network and WHO in your network is connected to them. That means if I want Anita Campbell to be my friend on LinkedIn (Hi Anita!), I just have to go to her profile and I can visually see what connections we share. Then, I can send my friend a message to facilitate an introduction. I’ve used the “get introduced through a connection” feature quite a bit to get in contact different editors and writers. People are much more likely to trust you when you come with an endorsement from someone they already trust. Which is the whole point of LinkedIn.
Network with Linkedin Groups: LinkedIn Groups are another great way to network because they give you a chance to get into real conversations with other professionals. By adding value and responding to other people, you again help to build your own authority and branding. Provide someone with information they can use, and you’ll likely also increase traffic back to your own site or blog when they try to learn more about you. Building traffic by being helpful is awesome.
How are you using LinkedIn? What successes have you seen?
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I have had a lot of success getting business with the LinkedIn Q&A section. Bottom line is that if you give good answers, people can see your name and professional headline, and can contact you for more.
Therefore, a big tip for people is – Make your professional headline a marketing slogan, not your title.
I have a full blog entry on this at http://www.the-linkedin-speaker.com/blog/2009/05/07/linkedin-training-tip-professional-headline-should-be-a-marketing-phrase-not-your-job-title/
Simply updating your status regularly can lead to business. I am connected to a lot of friends from college and we’re now in different companies. A simple status update on my LinkedIn profile reminded a former classmate that I was in internet marketing and they needed SEO advice (and a provider) for an upcoming project. So when it comes to using your status to stay top of mind – Double True!
Thanks for great tips. I have to utilize LinkedIn more in the future. I haven’t changed the status update for some time.
As my future plans for my return to USA is making progress, I am interested in the following (as stated on my LinkedIn profile):
* career opportunities
* consulting offers
* new ventures
* expertise requests
* reference requests
* getting back in touch
You could see my profile by clicking on my name, or go to:
Great list of good tips. I wrote a similar article about facebook.
New to Linked In so I enjoyed reading this article. It is a great tool for small businesses. Thus far, the Q & A portion is really beneficial for getting your name out there but also offering ideas and help to other small business professionals.
I think that people who enjoy this blog may also find this very interesting and helpful:
I am a huge fan of talk radio, and am also a business person constantly looking for sound ideas for income strategies. So when I heard Janet Switzer (marketing mogul for the Chicken Soup Series) on Conversations Live with Vicki St.Clair recently it was really inspiring. Conversations Live with Vicki St.Clair is hosted on Seattle’s KKNW
every Monday, noon PT.
On this segment, Janet Switzer introduced her new book called Instant Income: Strategies that bring in Cash for Small Businesses, Innovative Employees, and Occasional Entrepreneurs. The book and her radio interview shares some 20 years of marketing and advertising experience that’s invaluable. To learn all about her proven business tips
for yourself, you can listen to the full podcast here:
To make my status updates easier, I use ping.fm and it will update my status on FB, Twitter and LinkedIn. EVERY TIME I write a blog post, I add it to Ping.fm, when I find a news item I use Ping.fm, when I write an article I link to Ping.fm. This keeps my status fresh and offers lots of exposure to my site.
I agree Lisa that Linkedin has to be part of the mix for a small business owner. I belong to a number of groups and they’re really good ways of picking up information and sharing with likeminded business owners
LinkedIn is definitely in the top 3 for places I need to be, daily. Great reminders!
The Franchise King
I must admit that I’m late on this one. I’m not even signed up with facebook.
Right now, the only site I use is twitter.
I’m currently building my outsourcing team. And once I can have more free time, I’ll make sure to join them both.
All the best,
Thanks for the ideas! I also want to thank Steven Schlagel for his helpful suggesting on ping.fm! I am off now to investigate!
An overlooked feature of LinkedIn is that it simplifies staying in touch professionally. The weekly LinkedIn updates email often provides me with a job change or new professional connection for people I don’t otherwise communicate with. The email becomes the impetus for an email or call that I might otherwise not have made.
Totally agree. LinkedIn is very underrated and has really found a couple of great niche platforms for professionals. I have found that using LinkedIn is more efficient as it allows me to cut through the crap and get down to business.
LinkedIn should be your B-B networking tool of choice and I applaud Lisa for bringing this topic up. While Facebook is great for friend/family/fun; and Twitter is like a non-stop shouting match :-), LinkedIn is a great venue for business discussion, connections and busines.
Besides Lisa’s super tips here, I had the pleasure of listening to Todd Colbeck (http://www.linkedin.com/in/toddcolbeck) recently at
Harry Brelsford’s SMB Nation event… and he is awesome! He occasionally provides free LinkedIn seminars, so check out his webpage: http://bit.ly/2pf6VR
One of the many ideas he provided in his talk was the following:
1. reach out to poeple you have just met at a show/meeting/event
2. connect with them saying you’ve done business with them (under your current business)
3. write a personal note in the invite email (DO NOT USE THE STANDARD TEXT LinkedIn provides)
Like all these tools, LinkedIn is something you should use consistently… and in my opinion (for business) it’s the first one you should invest your time in.
PS. add your LinkedIn profile to your email signature… its a great way to let folks (a) see a picture of you and (2) get some background info on you…
Thanks for this wonderful tip I have been on LinkedIn for about 2 years, it’s increasingly helpful !
Great tips! LinkedIn and among many other social network sites are a great way to ultilize and network for getting your name out, and reaching out to a vast target audience.
Implementing these tips on a daily basis can be greatly rewarding through dedication and patience.
Marketing with Passion would be a Plus!
Far fewer people utilize Linkedin which is a shame, but I have found that the more “serious” business gets done there.
I like to keep up to date on what my connections are doing. By making regular updates to you profile, etc… your activity will be part of the recent updates people see when they log in.
Thanks Lisa! I really have to get on top of this. Good tips. Linkedin tends to get forgotten. Not anymore.
As the owner of a small (20 person) business I would agree that LinkedIn packs a lot of punch. We use it regularly to gain new contacts and let people know about new helpful content we have published for small businesses. We also started a group in which we share technology stories, tips, and solutions with clients, friends and prospects. Overall, I find it a much more professional community to work within and prefer it to FaceBook hands down.
Very good tips for LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn with my twitter account to provide fresh, up to date small business tips and information about my company. Thanks for sharing this!
Linkedin is a great place where we can share our knowledge with the top professionals of world. The thing like I this that this totally genuine platform where all users submit their original information. Above all linkedin profile is counts as free backlink in google if we give their company name .
As for your tips for using social networks to your advantage, I completely agree. Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging are great for that. Connect with professionals and other job seekers on Twitter. Use LinkedIn for connecting and researching. Start a blog and write about stuff that’s relevant to your industry. Always be yourself, but use your common sense as well.
I agree with stellar data recovery on Linkedin as a great place where we can share our knowledge with the top professionals of world. By simply updating your status can really lead you to a very successful business. This post is really helpful and thank you for sharing it.
It is amazing how much LinkedIn has changed in the hears since this article was written.