One of my favourite social media tools is LinkedIn. I am increasingly finding lots of my clients have heard of this and have a vague idea about what it is about but are not really sure what to do. My first piece of advice is, that like most things in life, things are only new and scary for a little while. Once you have had a play, you will soon understand how LinkedIn works.
What is LinkedIn?
In their own words: “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 120 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.”
The first step to fully utilising LinkedIn is to get yourself set up. This means you need to create your profile. LinkedIn will walk you through this process and keep prompting you until your profile is showing 100% complete. There is also a fantastic feature that allows you to import your CV and therefore cut down the length of time it takes to set your profile up.
What about your company?
If you run a small business it is vital that you set up your company profile as well as your own. Again, take the time to complete all of it. This is what other LinkedIn users will see when they search for businesses in your category. Remember to use complete the Specialties tab as this is how searches are conducted within LinkedIn.
It is important that you make connections with people that are relevant to you. Again, LinkedIn provides a feature to import your contact list and start making connections with these people. Don’t be reluctant to connect with friends. Whilst LinkedIn is a more corporate-style of social media, all networking is good networking and your friends more than likely have their own established business networks that you can be a part of. In terms of who you connect with, this is entirely at your discretion. I personally only connect with people that I have met. I think this makes your connections more relevant and personal. Others are happy to connect with people that they may have had some interactions with either online or through remote business. It is up to you decide but one thing you need to be sure of is that all your connections view you and your business positively. Don’t go looking up that old boss who sacked you. It doesn’t matter that it is water under the bridge. They may not enhance your professional profile.
Putting yourself out there
Once your profile and that of your business is all set up you should explore some of the groups on LinkedIn. There are so many that there are sure to be some that are relevant to your business or industry. Try and visit these groups and be an active member. It takes time to become confident and feel that you have something to say but again practice makes perfect. Becoming an active member of a group is like attending a networking function and successfully working the room. These skills are as critical online as in person.
So now what?
Many people don’t quite understand the role that LinkedIn plays in business. Remember it is another marketing tool at your disposal. Marketing is about building your brand. LinkedIn allows you to build the brand of your business as well as you personally.
If you are in a service-based business, LinkedIn is a particularly useful tool for prospective clients. It allows them to see at a glance an immense amount of detail about you and your business. If you have built your profile properly, they will also be able to see some recommendations from past clients. These are particularly valuable because unlike the ones on your website, they cannot be easily faked!
Spread the word.
If you want potential clients to be able to find out more about you and your business, LinkedIn gives them the ideal opportunity to do so. It should support everything you say on your website. Indeed, across the internet, all of your messages should be consistent.
Like many forms of social media, LinkedIn also allows you to post updates and add links. If this sounds like it could get time consuming, you should consider using a social media manager like Hootsuite to blast out your updates.
Be sure to include a link on both your website and email to your LinkedIn profile that will allow new clients or contacts to connect with you.
If this all sounds too hard and too time-consuming, remember here at Online Social Butterfly, one of our services is setting up and maintaining LinkedIn profiles for our clients. We tailor a package depending on the level of support and service you might need. Be sure to give us a call on 0433 533 263 to find out how we can help you get connected.