When it comes to acquiring customers, most people focus on the cool kids of social networking like Facebook and Twitter. But sitting at the front of class with a lot of ambition is LinkedIn. More than a digital rolodex, LinkedIn is fast becoming a publisher, super connector, economic data specialist and mobile first company. Folks, it's time to grow your business with LinkedIn.
"I predict that in the next twenty-four months, checking in to LinkedIn will be like checking in to Facebook - a regular part of our daily existence."
- Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story In A Noisy Social World (2013).
If you read the statistics, LinkedIn currently has 277+ million users but is growing fast. For every second, two new users sign up. Long term the company wants to reach 3 billion users. What does this mean for you and your business? It means get in now to take advantage of the growth to come. Hey, chances are your customers are already on there.
Let's look 7 things you can do to help grow your business with LinkedIn.
1 LinkedIn Publishing Platform
Use LinkedIn’s publishing platform to expand your network and position yourself as a thought leader to drive leads.
You can now write blogs within LinkedIn. These blogs have the ability to access the broader LinkedIn audience. This is achieved by your connections liking, commenting and recommending your posts and by outside connections subscribing to your posts. The other benefit is your content becomes a part of your professional profile (see below).
Just like any content you post online, make sure blogs add value and include a call to action (such as asking people to comment). You may also consider adding your own short bio at the bottom to let people know more about you.
*The LinkedIn publishing platform is currently being rolled out but will be available to all members soon.
2 Trending Content Tool
So you're now using LinkedIn’s publishing platform, but what do you write about? To help plan your content, check out LinkedIn’s trending content tool. You can view the top trending articles by category to understand what readers are interested in. In the example below we can see the top shared articles for small business owners.
3 Spark Discussion
If one of your connections posts about your industry or area of expertise, leave an insightful comment. This allows you to promote yourself to the connections of your connection.
4 Leverage Groups
Think of LinkedIn Groups as networking events, only online and always on. Join groups relevant to your industry and expertise. This includes groups where you’re customers are - providing you can add value to these groups.
According to LinkedIn, group participants get 4x the number of profile views. How do you participate? Here's a good example, share good content and ask for the opinion of others.
Another benefit of joining groups is you can send direct messages to anyone in that group. This doesn't allow you to send group emails but it does allow you to target an individual who is not a direct connection. Like any email marketing you do, your message needs to be targeted and of value to the other person. Members can turn this feature off if they don't want to be contacted but most don't.
5 Advanced Search
LinkedIn's search feature already let's you find people and companies based on things like industry, location, past employer and education provider. However with LinkedIn premium, you can advance your search and better target people and companies. Let's say you're targeting senior marketing managers of Fortune 500 companies in New York with 30 employees or less in a specific industry - you can do this with LinkedIn premium.
The other cool thing you can do with LinkedIn's advance search is 'Save Searches'. For example, you could search your target market, save the search and then have LinkedIn notify you by email of new people who match your search criteria. Each week you can discover new leads.
If you have LinkedIn premium you can send InMail's to these people or join the groups they belong to in order to contact them. Advance search is a great way to build your database of potential leads.
6 LinkedIn Company Page
While everyone else focuses on their Facebook Fan Page, why not take advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages. Right now there is limited competition. If you're already producing content for other social networks, why not promote this content on a LinkedIn company page. Building your brand on social media and growing your followers is a long term play but it's an area LinkedIn is serious about so it's worth starting now.
To get people to follower your company, invite your own connections, encourage your employees to sign up, use your other social networks and follow all the tactics in this blog post.
7 Optimize Your Profile
If you're doing all of the above - blogging, participating in groups, commenting, sharing - then your profile views and that of your employees will naturally increase. The next step is to ensure your profile is optimized, not only for search but to turn those profile views into leads.
Let's look at search first. If someone is searching for someone with your skills, you want them to find you.
The first area to optimise is your headline text (this appears below your name). Most people simply list their title and company. Consider this your sales pitch and include words you want to be found for. You might even consider adding a call to action.
Use the summary area to also promote key words. Not sure what to write? Why not promote your biggest achievements. Or tell people why you do what you do. Or storytell about your career. Write in a casual tone and be interesting. I like the example below because it succinctly describes the person's biggest achievements and key strengths. It's called a summary for a reason.
Show Media Examples
LinkedIn allows you to showcase your work within your summary and/or work experience sections. Have you built a website? Launched an app? Crafted a great blog? Got PR for a client? Whatever your achievement you can now embed a link, video or photo within your profile.
In this post we tried to suggest easy actionable things you can do today to grow your business with Linkedin.
Just don't dismiss LinkedIn as a channel to grow your business. Here is a data rich platform that's evolving everyday. If you knew how serious LinkedIn is about increasing growth and engagement, you would start getting more involved, mostly because your competition is not.
What do you think of LinkedIn as a platform to grow your business? What has or hasn't worked for you?