How to Use LinkedIn for Growing your Business
I’m here not as an expert, but to join you on the journey into social media, specifically through LinkedIn, so we can all further our efforts to BUILD TRUST among our contacts, GROW OUR NETWORKS and therefore GROW OUR BUSINESSES.
What do Boston, an avocado, Shakopee, MN, and a banana have in common? LinkedIn.
My client sells printing for Imagine Print Solutions in Shakopee. They print packaging and custom displays, post of purchase, labels and signage. He was contacted by a print rep out of Boston, who was contacted by Chiquita thru LinkedIn, to broker a job for their new avocado launch. The connection was made possible by LinkedIn, and could prove to be a very loyal and profitable customer for my husband in the future.
WHAT IS LINKEDIN? LinkedIn is a business networking website that allows its users to identify, make and maintain contact with other business professionals. It also has forum sections and “groups” where users can ask and answer business related questions.
- Has more than 30 million users
- 1.3 million new people sign up each month
- of that 1.3 million, 750,000 are senior executive level
- Average annual income exceeds $109,000
- The average age for LinkedIn users is 41, with all the top Fortune 500 business decision makers having LinkedIn accounts.
8 Tips to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business
1. People use LinkedIn as an online resume. Members create profiles that provide a snapshot of their professional background – where they work currently, past work history, the businesses they own, and even the side businesses they run. So, if I am checking someone out, I visit LinkedIn because it’s usually the most streamlined place to scan professional qualifications.
LinkedIn Profile Tips: Use a current photo; Include keywords in your headline, summary, experiences, and interests; Add your web URLs, blogs, links and any part of your online identity; important stuff about what you do; reinforce your marketing message. You can also add the LinkedIn Blog application to add more information to your profile; Make it public.
2. LinkedIn is also a way to connect and establish relationships with new people, and expand and reinforce existing relationships. So what exactly can LinkedIn do for your business? Use it to:
LinkedIn Tips: Expand your contacts. The right contacts can help you grow your business, whether you need to find business partners, suppliers or customers. Place a link to your LinkedIn profile prominently on your website (perhaps on the About page) and/or on your blog. That will encourage people to become one of your LinkedIn contacts. In addition, answer questions on the LinkedIn Answers network. Giving someone valuable information makes it easy to strike up an online conversation and from there build a relationship. You are building TRUST. It’s about reputation. Networks like LinkedIn are systems for communicating reputation so people can determine how much they should trust you. It’s a virtual representation of your reputation. Both what you list and who you are connected to, give critical information about who you are.
Tips on contacts: use LinkedIn Search people—who are you looking for? You are only one, possibly two, linkedin connections away from your next large customer. Bring your network online. Your network is one of your most valuable assets, but it does little good for you offline. Upload your Address Book, invite the people you want to connect with, and get connected. Having your network online means that you can now use it as a personalized search engine for both who and what you know.
STORY: It’s important to find the right person at a company. For Jeff Ragovin, doing just that has netted his company “over two to three million dollars”. Jeff writes: “I look at my network on LinkedIn,” “And I look at that as a gold mine.” As the VP of Sales and Business Development at Buddy Media, Jeff brings in marquis clients like Anheuser-Busch, Microsoft and New Balance by reaching out to the right person with a valuable proposal. Jeff says they’re more inclined to reply when approached via LinkedIn, because “they already have the opportunity to look you up … and maybe even see in your network where you have 14 recommendations. So there’s trust.” Perhaps that trust is why Jeff likes to keep his network “large but lean”.
“It’s not a numbers game,” Jeff says. “It’s not about how many people can I have in my network. With LinkedIn, it’s about how many qualified people that are valuable to me.” Jeff’s track record suggests that success is found in quality, rather than quantity. Though as quantities go, $2-3 million is nothing to sniff at.
3. Stay connected with existing business networking contacts. You’ve invested precious time in developing business contacts through networking –don’t let those contacts evaporate. Using LinkedIn, you can keep track of people you’ve met at in-person events or at trade shows – or people you’ve only met online. LinkedIn offers profile photos, letting you remember the person’s face even if you haven’t seen them in a while. Also, if you need an up-to-date email address for one of your connections, you can find it on LinkedIn.
Find connections. Who knows your client or customer before you do? Keep track of old friends. LinkedIn Identifies good networkers. Identify relationships between people you know and people you want to know. Pay attention to people’s job titles.
4. LinkedIn Recommendations – With LinkedIn, you can receive ongoing testimonials. When your clients and vendors give you recommendations, you gain instant credibility.
We are now in a time where most people will do a Google search for your name and company before deciding on a purchase. Your LinkedIn profile along with the recommendations from your clients and vendors will be near the top of any search on your name clearly adding to your credibility.
Invite and connect to people who have worked with you and can give you a glowing “specific” recommendation. You’ll want to help the person giving the recommendation use the right key words and specific solution for best results.
Give recommendations whenever possible. It will show up in Recent Activity on all the connections for both of you. In other words, you’ll both go up the referral curve!
5. Draw traffic to your website and blog. You can link to your website and blog from your LinkedIn profile. Adjust your LinkedIn settings to notify your contacts whenever you update your profile. Then update your profile once a quarter and LinkedIn will send out a notice to remind your contacts to come see what’s changed. For instance, if you redesign your website or add a product line, you can update your profile and your contacts automatically will be notified.
6. Get PR visibility. Many bloggers and journalists have LinkedIn profiles. While it may be difficult to get their attention by “cold call emailing,” try getting introduced to them through LinkedIn. You certainly do not want to spam them or annoy them. But connecting through LinkedIn is a low pressure way to start developing a relationship. Later on, after they “know” you, they may be more receptive to hearing about your online store, particularly if you serve a niche market or have distinctive merchandise. Take advantage of what you are working on to promote what you do. (keywords)
Join relevant Groups based on your interests, position yourself as an expert. Read the comments and add helpful, appropriate comments. Follow other groups. Use the news. Involve your coworkers into discussion.
7. Reinforce your business brand. Your LinkedIn profile will include your company name. You can even include detailed information about what your business does as well as your products and services. Some savvy entrepreneurs include their URL as part of their name and title so that it appears every time their name is displayed on LinkedIn. These actions reinforce your brand at no cost to you. Announce significant news about your business (new launch or joint venture. By way of a profile update. Make sure your website, blogs and other web-based content are SEO for YOUR purposes. Add something of value to the content, linked, tips, etc.
8. Use LinkedIn to hire service providers, freelancers, independent contractors and employees. LinkedIn is excellent for finding or checking out qualified help. All you need to do is request an introduction through an existing contact.
Lets review these LinkedIn Tips:
- Come recommended and reach out to the right person at the right company.
- Update your professional summary and request recommendations from your LinkedIn contacts who know what you do best.
- Search for the right person to connect with by job title, company, location or keyword.
- Review profiles to see if they’re a fit for your proposal and request an introduction through a common connection, or send an InMail directly to that person.
- By answering questions in your field of expertise you can help others while showcasing your knowledge of your particular industry in front of a wider audience. This will allow you to connect with interesting people and hopefully bring in new contracts.
- Have people familiar with your work recommend you!
Given our current economic conditions, there is no better time to utilize marketing opportunities like social media which are right at your fingertips to promote your business.
I hope you utilize 2009 to jumpstart social media strategies to improve your business.
With LinkedIn, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
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