by Keith McMean
LinkedIn is probably the biggest network for organization professionals to meet and connect on the internet. It’s a bit like Facebook for ‘grown ups’. Connections are usually based on occupations and interests of the people on the platform. LinkedIn is a great place if you are looking for a new job or you want some professional advice as there is always someone there who can help. It’s also a fantastic place where business owners and managers can improve their business in lots of new and exciting ways.
Now, I know that some of you out there are wondering how you can improve your organization growth on LinkedIn. Well first off there is a big difference between being a corporate type business on LinkedIn and a small business. Large corporations typically use LinkedIn to headhunt the top people in their sector. Human resource departments use the platform, and other means of finding candidates such as job sites and newspaper publications, to find suitable candidates, I know this because I have helped large corporations to do this.
Small business owners tend to use LinkedIn in a totally different way, it’s typically to find new clients, business partners, employees and to gain different aspects and insights in to their existing business. One of the fantastic things that is happening right now is organizations are being sold on LinkedIn, a great new innovation.
We all know that a successful business depends on networking to grow and one of the biggest innovations over the past ten years or so is the birth of these social networking platforms in helping to assist greatly in business development. One of the great things I love about social networking platforms is the interaction between members and how this can really propel a organization to the top in a very short space of time.
With is membership growing daily it’s not to be discounted for the small business owner, in fact its to be actively encouraged as the ‘go to’ platform but if you are just starting out here are my killer tips on how to succeed:
- Use LinkedIn to attract and hire the best people. Posting jobs on LinkedIn is really easy and don’t forget that all candidates profiles, most people still write their profiles like a CV but that’s another story, are conveniently stored so you can look through their skill sets and connections at your leisure. Don’t forget that someone who you might want to hire may have some really great connections you can leverage at a later date.
- So why would you go anywhere else if you have a problem with your organization? Just about every solution is there if you just ‘dig a little’. Use the Answers and groups as a starting point. So say you were looking to set up a new division in an area outside your current one, where better to find out locations, hiring staff in fact everything you could think of will be on LinkedIn, you just have to look and ask.
- So keeping to the ‘moving’ theme what if you want to acquire some new customers and clients in your new area? Well wouldn’t it make sense to ask for recommendations from you existing happy clients or customers? These are gold when you consider that millions of users can potentially view your profile and having some really great recommendations on there will really help.
- So what if you are looking to outsource some of your work you would want to find the right partner. So let’s say you sell food or sports supplements and you are looking for a gym to send your clients who are using them but haven’t found a great place to work out yet? Potentially this could be in any part of the world if you sell your supplements nationally or internationally. Let’s face it if you know nothing about how a gym works what better way than to find someone who can complement your existing business. Before long they will be recommending you and vice a versa.
- So what if you are looking for a new supplier? We all know that suppliers and vendors, good ones I mean, are hard to come by. LinkedIn is a great starting place to find new ones and can be used to foster competition among bidders and get the best deals, leading to lower costs for the business.
- What about partnering with allied businesses? Let’s say you have a limousine hire company doesn’t if follow that people who hire expensive limousines also like other expensive items like holidays, houses or watches, you get the picture. Using LinkedIn to form partnerships or connections will help gain new clients who can then get great deals, it’s a win-win for all parties.
- Visibility is key and if you need to create a business page then go ahead. Company page can offer some great public information where LinkedIn members can search and ‘follow’ companies and brands that they really like and engage with. This will also give you a means to share quality content on what happening in the business.
- Keep up with current trends, now I am not saying that you spend every waking moment on LinkedIn but we all know that knowledge is power. Well what you do with knowledge is the real power. Keeping informed with the latest trends will allow you to be quick to respond to the needs of the consumers. LinkedIn has a section containing the latest news in the business world so use it!
- Join your industry associations or group on LinkedIn or start a new one. This has always been a ‘biggy’ for me as being a member of a recognised association builds up credibility in the minds of business partners or customers. Starting a group is a really easy thing to do and will also present you as a leader in your area.
- Connect all you social platforms together in one place so that people and potential clients etc. can find you easily. This also helps to create a buzz about your business.
- I know that businesses use LinkedIn and other social media networks to find out what competitors are up to and with whom. I don’t get too paranoid about people watching me, I think of it as a compliment and help where I can.
- Use LinkedIn to find potential investors in your business. Be active on your industry forums and groups, present an outline of your business plan and see if there is someone willing to invest money and participate in your business operations. Also, if some business activity is too big for you to perform by yourself, look for someone with similar problem so you can join forces. For example, if you’re an importer of goods from the US you should import the whole container of products so you can keep your costs per unit down. But the whole container might be too much for your market share, so the best way is to find someone to join up with. Both partners would import only the half of the container while keeping all the advantages of economy of scale. A no brainer really.
- Using LinkedIn’s ‘Answers’ can really boost your credibility as you can answer people questions and again become a leader in your area. Becoming an expert can be really quick and easy. Now again I am not advocating spending every waking moment on this but having a ‘look see’ every now and again will really help in the credibility stakes. Don’t forget that members who are impressed by the quality of your answers may end up becoming clients. You could expect lots of inquires about your services and turning those answer seekers into new clients and it’s much easier than cold calling.
- One of the great things I found out about LinkedIn really early on was that it’s a fantastic SEO (search engine optimisation) tool. I can say that most of the time, when a LinkedIn profile for your business is up and running correctly, it is shown at the very top of a search. Having a LinkedIn profile helps your company be more visible on Google and search sites.
- If you are running an event, and I do all the time, LinkedIn is a great place to promote an event. It’s a very effective way of getting attendees. Once a member chooses to attend, that RSVP will be shown on his home profile, making it visible to all his connections. It’s fantastic word of mouth advertising.
- Don’t be shy because LinkedIn has a lot of built-in apps which can be utilised to promote and sell your services. Use the SlideShare app to upload a presentation about your business and the services you offer. Have a good dig about on LinkedIn because there are some really cool things going on that will really boos your business.
- I would urge you to join groups and seek out customers. Groups comprise members who share the same interests. Sign up for those that reflect the profile of your target market and interact with them. Do not hard sell but rather build your reputation with them at a steady pace that suits both parties. Making comments in the group will allow you to form connections with the subscribers of that group and build strong connections.
Because LinkedIn is a business network, it is made up of professional people seeking to make new and meaningful connections. By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, organizations will be able to achieve significant growth in their business.
- Finally build a killer profile that will really help propel you and your organization. I have said this before on earlier posts but it bares saying again that adding a profile picture is the single most important thing you can do. There is nothing worse than looking at a profile and trying to figure out if it’s the right person you want to connect with or not.
So that’s some of my killer tips for LinkedIn I hope you use some or all of them to boost your business and I hope you leave a comment on how you are using LinkedIn and other social networking platforms. Till next time…