If you’re a business owner, chances are you have a LinkedIn account. In fact there is an even better chance that LinkedIn was one of the first social platforms you joined. And if you’re not currently on LinkedIn, you may want to reconsider that after this article… Let’s begin with some reasons why you should not overlook the potential of this platform.
For starters, LinkedIn has over 200 million active users in over 200 countries, and they are all there for one thing…. to Network!It is the world’s largest networking platform for professionals, with an audience that tends to be more educated and affluent when compared to some of the more popular social networks. And because of this, the platform is ideal for connecting with other professionals, finding a job or generating business opportunities. If your business is a B2B, then LinkedIn is where you want to be!
According to the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Industry 2013 Report, 29% of marketers utilize LinkedIn for B2B in comparison to the 5% that use it for B2C. That means that for B2B, LinkedIn is just as significant as Facebook when it comes to social media marketing.Business owners we’ve spoken to have clearly stated that while they have pages on other social networks, they make money from LinkedIn!
And hey! why wouldn’t that be true? LinkedIn is, after all, the platform that says, “Hey, I’m serious. Let’s do business!” If you’ve ever taken the time to Google a client’s name before or after a meeting, the first result was most likely their LinkedIn profile. The appeal is in the ability to access your current network and connect to new networks, in one virtual place. In a way its your personal CRM with a social element. So here are some tips, to help you get started:
1. Invest In A Solid Profile:
Now that could be in time or money! Compile old resumes, sit down and take the time to really dive deep into your skills, strengths and hobbies. When you sit down to write this into the profile you want to keep in mind who your audience is, what are some of the challenges your customers face and how do you help them solve them? Who is your typical customer and what are the strengths of your business? Use this information to your advantage! You need to have a So What? mentality.
When your prospective customer reads your profile will it matter to them, what value or knowledge do you bring to the table that sets you apart? You know, you just probably don’t often take the time to reflect on it. This is the key element that you don’t want to over look or half-ass. Think about it if your profile is half-filled out, you may be sending the message to your potential clients that you don’t finish what you start. A simple cut and paste of your resume just won’t do either, that will only show a lack of creativity. Your LinkedIn profile is not a resume or a bio, so put some thought into it. If you’re really looking for a killer profile hire someone to put it together for you, like The Written Coach.
2. Making Connections:
The very first thing we’re going to say on this topic is that LinkedIn limits the amount of connections you can personally make to 3000! So before you run off and connect with every single person whose business card you’ve ever collected, restrain yourself… Connect with individuals that you either do business with or have the potential to do business with, sprinkled with those contacts that you believe have the ability to help you generate leads. If you hit the 3000 mark you’ll have to request additional connections from LinkedIn. Sounds like a pain to me… Just be mindful! Don’t let this make you feel limited, however. Consider adding a link to your profile at the bottom of your work email, inviting people to connect with you!
LinkedIn classifies your individual connections based on three levels of degree. A 1st degree connection is either someone you have added to your network or they have added you to their network. 1st degree connections are directly connected to you, these are your family, friends, co-workers etc. A 2nd degree connection is a person connected to you by a 1st degree connection but not directly connected to you. Lastly, a 3rd degree connection is someone who is connected to you by way of a 2nd degree connection. Remember your intention on LinkedIn is to grow your network… Why? Because LinkedIn rewards users with large networks with better search engine rankings. Do a simple keyword search within LinkedIn’s search engine and you will find that certain profiles rank higher than others.
LinkedIn is not just a social network, it’s a database of skilled professionals, for professionals. In fact, a potential client may be searching for someone just like you but if you don’t share a common network connection or a LinkedIn group… you’re invisible! You are only allowed to access and communicate with the connections in your network. If you want to be found within LinkedIn, you need a large LinkedIn network.
Just know that whenever you invite someone to connect with you, you run the risk of your LinkedIn invitation being rejected. Therefore, we suggest adding a personal message to your invitations. Think about, who could resist adding a polite person who showers them with kind words? Consider:
“It was great meeting you at the networking event yesterday evening. I like to keep track of my contacts on LinkedIn. May I add you?”
“Hi Alex! I enjoy your posts on the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group. Would you mind if I add you to my professional network on LinkedIn? I have a number of connections that you may find useful in your networking.”
Beware, if you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, and they click I Don’t Know this person or Report as Spam, the recipient of your invite is citing you as an ABUSIVE LinkedIn user! 5 flagged invites and your LinkedIn account is set to “restricted.” Once restricted, you must enter an email address each time you try adding new people to your network. Talk about a major inconvenience!
3. Join Groups:
LinkedIn gives you the ability to join 50 groups, and we would advise joining all 50! Besides reaching out to all of your contacts, groups are an ideal and simple way to grow your network. Groups provide you with opportunities to establish yourself as a reliable resource, learn more about your clients, and find help when trouble shooting issues that arise in your own business. So join groups with large numbers of members… like hundreds of thousands of members! Look for groups that contain your potential and existing customers, as well as business partners and competition.
Take the time to review who the members of each group are. Are there any members who are adding real value to the group? Who are the top contributors? These are people you may want to consider adding to your network. Connect the group’s active contributors, these people understand the importance of growing one’s network and are typically more open to connecting. Group managers are usually good for this too.
Keep in mind as you begin to contribute to these groups, any discussion you comment on you will automatically be notified anytime someone else comments on the same post. So to avoid unwanted spam simply un-check the notification setting prior to posting your comment. To avoid receiving too many emails from all these groups in general, simply:
1. Click your name at the upper right hand corner of your LinkedIn screen.
2. Click Privacy and Settings
3. Click the “Groups, Companies & Applications” section.
4. Click “Set the frequency of group digest emails”
5. Scroll through the list and choose Daily Digest, Weekly Digest, or No Email (depending on your preferences.)
6. Click Save Changes when finished.
Last thing you should know about groups… The groups dedicated to LIONs, Leading International Open Networkers (LIONs), are individuals who love networking and are open to connecting with just about anyone. By simply joining these groups you are letting other group members know you are willing to network and connect openly.
We hope these 3 tips will help you get started on LinkedIn, whether your new to the platform or have a profile you simply don’t use! Please feel free to share you feed back or leave us a comment. We’re not perfect so if you feel we have stated something in error, by all means let us know!