When it comes to acquiring customers, most people focus on the cool kids of social networking like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But sitting at the front of the class with a lot of ambition is LinkedIn. More than a digital Rolodex, LinkedIn has fast become a publisher, super-connector, economic data specialist and mobile-first company. Folks, it's time to grow your business with LinkedIn.
In fact, LinkedIn has long been predicted to become a larger-than-life resource for the working professional and job seekers alike. Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story In A Noisy Social World predicted in 2013 as such: "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."
Statistics show that LinkedIn currently has 500 million users and of the 2 billion Millennials globally, 87 million of them are on LinkedIn. So, now that we've established how popular LinkedIn is, let's look at seven ways you can grow your business by using the professional platform.
01. Use LinkedIn's publishing platform
Use LinkedIn’s publishing platform that allows you to write and share blogs. Doing this can help to expand your network and position yourself as a thought leader to drive leads.
To do this, it's important to identify what your expertise is and where your authority sits. For example, if you have worked in marketing for over five years, chances are, you have the expert knowledge to share with your network.
The goal of using LinkedIn's publishing platform is that they like, comment, and recommend your post—thus expanding your network. This also means that you may get outside connections subscribing to your posts.
LinkedIn tip: Just like any content you post online, make sure blogs add value. You may also consider adding your own short bio at the bottom to let people know more about you.
02. Spark discussion
LinkedIn has become a hub for a lively discussion about various industries, working cultures, and even productivity. If one of your connections posts about your industry or area of expertise, leave an insightful comment that adds value to the conversation. This allows you to promote yourself to a wider audience than just your immediate network.
03. Leverage groups
Think of LinkedIn Groups as networking events, only online and always on. Another way to grow your business is to join groups relevant to your industry and expertise. This includes groups where your potential customers are.
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.
04. Use advanced search
LinkedIn's search feature already lets 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 advanced 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.
05. Take advantage of LinkedIn Pages
While everyone else focuses on their Facebook Fan Page, why not take advantage of LinkedIn Pages. 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.
06. Optimize your profile
If you're doing all of the above—blogging, participating in groups, commenting and haring—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 optimize 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 storytelling 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.