LinkedIn is the professionals’ social network. It’s the place where people go to market themselves and their businesses, build their professional networks, and find skilled employees. While people visit other social networks to stay in touch with friends and share their personal lives, most people visit LinkedIn with a work-related intention. This means that LinkedIn is the best place to generate business-to-business sales leads, and establish your business as an authority within your industry. There are a number of ways to market your business on LinkedIn, and this article will walk you through these various opportunities.
Overview: Using LinkedIn Most people use LinkedIn as a 21st century rolodex. After I meet someone who I deem a useful professional contact, I immediately send them a request. Once you are connected on LinkedIn, you have the ability to send them emails directly, which makes doing business with people much easier. People do business with people they have relationships with, and LinkedIn is all about creating these relationships with people at the periphery of your professional network. It gives you an easy way to establish and maintain a relationship with people that can help you professionally. Even if you only meet someone briefly, connecting with them on LinkedIn gives you the ability to nurture this initial contact and turn it into a more rewarding professional relationship over time. Keep in mind, however, that just having a connection on LinkedIn has zero value. You need to use LinkedIn’s features to effectively communicate with your network to promote yourself and your brand. Understanding the following features will help you leverage LinkedIn to promote your business in new ways.
1. Personal Profile The first step to marketing your business online is to build your personal LinkedIn profile. This is where you write your personal summary, add your resume, skills and endorsements, and get recommendations from other professionals. When you fill out your personal summary, don’t just throw in a bunch of buzz words. Instead, focus on why you do what you do. Try to emphasize the bigger picture underlying your career. What’s the backstory to everything you’ve done, so far? As you fill out your various profile sections, you may find that some sections emphasize your strengths better than others. If this is the case, make sure to drag the sections that make you look best towards the top, and let your weaker sections fall to the bottom. You can do this by using the directional arrow icon next to each section. This allows you to re-order and emphasize the sections of your profile that you want viewers to see first. One section that you should try to develop, if you haven’t already, is the “Recommendations” section. This section allows you to get brief written testimonials from other professionals, which can improve your online reputation. The best way to get recommendations is to send requests to your friends and business colleagues. If you aren’t getting prompt responses from your networks, start by writing recommendations for others and hopefully they will reciprocate soon.
2. Company Page Once you have set up a personal profile, the next step to marketing your business on LinkedIn is to create a company page, which will serve as the hub of your marketing efforts. A company page is important because it lets you create targeted status updates, promote your products and services, and build an audience of followers. One advantage of a Company Page is that it lets you represent your company, not just yourself. This can make it easier to find other companies to do business with, and demonstrate the expertise of your company, not just yourself. If you are looking for a job, it’s more important to represent yourself, but if you are marketing your business, you should focus on representing your business. You can use company pages to publish your company’s description, headquarters address and Website address.
3. Content In order to make LinkedIn an effective marketing tool, you need to build an audience that is engaged with your brand. In order to do this, you need to regularly publish quality, meaningful content that will keep people coming back to your page. One way to engage your audience is to open with a question. This means that If you’re sharing content, accompany the post with a prompt designed to start a conversation. Once you post something, encourage your friends to post or comment. Sometimes people can be reluctant comment first, but once a few people take the leap the discussion can really take off. Another key strategy is to target the audience you want to reach. As a page admin, you can target your updates by criteria like company size, industry, job function, seniority, and geography. A LinkedIn study found that effectively targeting your message can increase audience engagement by 66% or more, so it is definitely worth your time.
4. Groups One of the best places to generate sales leads is in one of the many active LinkedIn Groups, which are organized around a common industry or focus. The best thing to do is to join a Group where you think your potential customers are hanging out. Once in a group, be sure to participate and share your knowledge and expertise. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, and impress potential clients. Establishing a reputation in a group can take time, so it’s better to focus on a few groups that you believe hold the greatest potential, rather than spreading yourself too thin. Once you get the hang of group discussions, you may consider setting up your own group. Establishing your own group can help establish your reputation as a thought leader in your industry, let you showcase your own content to your audience, develop closer professional relationships, and generate interest in your business. Only start your own group if you are prepared to post regular content, foster discussions While it requires commitment, one of the biggest advantages of having your own group is the free email broadcast tool included with it. This means that once every seven days you will have a free and easy method to send an email broadcast to your group members. You can use this to keep your brand at the forefront of people’s minds.
5. Email Blasts In addition to the email notifications tool built into the Groups, you can also send out emails to up to 50 contacts at a time. If you are going to send out mass messages, its best to target your emails to LinkedIn Contacts by geography and/or by industry. Don’t overuse mass messaging, and keep your messages informative and relevant.
6. Recommendations In addition to getting recommendations for your personal profile, you can also get recommendations for your Company Page. This is one of the most powerful ways to establish your credibility, as these testimonials will help prove the quality of your work. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and clients to make recommendations, and be sure to reciprocate if someone does recommend you. The more recommendations you have, the stronger your reputation is.
7. Paid Services Sometimes, you get what you pay for. While LinkedIn’s basic functionality is free, there are a number of paid services that can help improve your marketing efforts. LinkedIn’s paid features are basically divided into two categories – Premium memberships, and paid advertising. Premium memberships give you access to additional tools, such as the “Lead Builder”, and more detailed profiles. LinkedIn ads let you place ads directly on the pages of certain categories of individuals, such as level of executive and industry. This can be a good alternative to Google ads, since they allow you to target a certain type of person, rather than a keyword, which might be used by any number of people.
8. Analytics As you begin setting up your LinkedIn marketing strategy, you should set some targets to assess your progress. You should consider measuring:
- company page followers
- group members
- total number of post shares
- number of click throughs to your website from LinkedIn
- number of leads
- conversions achieved
Overall, studies have found that LinkedIn generates an average lead-conversion rate of 2.74%. Once you get comfortable on LinkedIn, measure your activity for one month an see what content is most successful and popular. Be sure to use the analytics tools built into the administrative page.
Final Thoughts LinkedIn is a powerful business marketing platform, so it is definitely worth investing some time to establish a presence there. As you become more familiar with the basic features, such as your profile and company pages, you should begin branching out and become involved in Groups and Answers. There is a lot to learn, but if you tackle one feature at a time you will be on your way to crafting an effective and affordable marketing resource. About The Author – Marc Prosser is the publisher of Fit Small Business, which writes about how small businesses can grow their bottom and top lines.