What is the value of LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that provides you with an opportunity to develop and grow your digital footprint online. Some professionals use LinkedIn for the job hunt or human resource recruitment. For the business owner, it’s a helpful tool to connect with prospective clients and customers, increase brand visibility or lead generation and sales tool. It’s a wonderful platform for developing and maintaining relationships, and finding the right people to partner with when I need them.
I know cold calling still exists, but many sales professionals use LinkedIn to do research on prospects before contacting them turning a cold lead into a warm lead. Large businesses use LinkedIn to position themselves in the workforce and marketplace to showcase their employees, products and services. You simply need to determine how you want to utilize LinkedIn and tie it to your business goals.
With the Ten Commandments of LinkedIn, I will be discussing basic features, tips and strategies for the small business owners.
According to LinkedIn, to reach 100% profile completeness, you should add all of the following to your profile:
• Industry and postal code
• A current position with description
• Include two previous positions
• Add your education
• At least 5 skills
• Add a professional profile photo
• At least 50 connections
• Add profile summary
Use keywords throughout your profile, because every word in your profile is searchable which increases your chances of being found. Also, in order to get discovered on LinkedIn, make your profile public. You can create a customized extension after www.linkedin.com/in/. Customize your public profile name by selecting your first and last name if available.
Deliver a consistent message
All your marketing tools should work in harmony with synchronized tactics and strategies that move you towards the success of your business mission, goals and objectives.
On LinkedIn, utilize all three website links, pull in your blog via apps, Twitter handles and highlight upcoming events. Research, decide and connect with the people in the best position to help you reach your goals. Use LinkedIn to find them.
Leverage and maximize your LinkedIn presence
The Applications tools give you the freedom to customize your profile and extend your LinkedIn brand. By utilizing the applications (apps) you can leverage to get more leads, product sales, brand awareness and more. LinkedIn Applications helps in making your profile page more engaging. If you don’t have any apps already loaded, then the simplest thing to do is visit the Applications Directory. (http://learn.linkedin.com/apps/) You can have a total of 15 modules and/or applications on your profile and 6 on your home page. There’s a worthwhile application for everyone.
Hosting an event soon? Installing the LinkedIn Events Application allows you to promote your own event out to your LinkedIn connections and gain visibility. Go to the Events application in the Applications Directory and add Events to your profile. From here you’ll be able to create an event of your own. LinkedIn automatically promotes the event to your network. In addition, LinkedIn recommends events to users based on keywords in their profiles. You’ll receive even more visibility each time someone RSVPs. Their entire network will have the opportunity to see they are attending. If you’d like to see all LinkedIn Events at a glance, check out the LinkedIn Events Directory; an aggregate web page that organizes events by industry, geography and event name: http://events.linkedin.com/.
LinkedIn is a big business networking party where everyone is handing out their profiles as business cards. With a database of over 161 million members you should maximize the opportunity of leveraging the network connection power of LinkedIn to achieve your mission and business goals.
Join the groups that are in line with your goals.
Groups are miniature social networks, subsets of the entire database of LinkedIn users, which people join based on common interests. Participating in Groups is a great engagement strategy. You can make new connections, discover prospects, generate feedback on ideas or products (market research), further brand yourself through the sub groups and discussion boards. These are great opportunities to share your expertise as a thought leader, gain creditability, and learn from others.
From a B2B prospective, LinkedIn recommendations offer social proof of a person’s creditability, business and work ethics, morals and values through the eyes of others. It adds another level of reassurance when you want to work with the client, select a vendor or establish a partnership.
Get your hard business questions answered.
LinkedIn Answers is a large Q & A forum, open to all LinkedIn members. It’s a simple concept, some people ask questions and others answer them. If you have a business question and receive responses, it’s like having an online advisor board. When answering questions, it raises your visibility and creditability and you can gain you points as the expert. LinkedIn Answers are searchable and indexed by Google.
When logging in review and comment on your network connections status updates. Respond to messages and invitations. Check discussions in groups and upcoming events. Pull out the business cards and connect with those you meet at last night’s networking event. Then update your status by using the box near the top of your home page that says “Share an update”. There is no golden rule as to how often you should update your status. I recommend at least three times per week. When you do an update, aim for newsworthy content, ask a question. When on LinkedIn, focus on informing, educating, engaging and fostering relationships.
It’s important to determine your baseline measurements to gauge the effectiveness of your LinkedIn strategies over time. Keep it simple, selecting 3-4 metrics to track. As you gather more information, you can better refine and expand your measurement criteria.
Here are metrics you can consider tracking on LinkedIn:
1. Total Connections
2. New Invitations
3. LinkedIn Profile Views
4. LinkedIn Search Results (from prospecting)
5. Inbox Activity and Sentiment (incoming leads)
6. Requests for Business
7. Responses and follow-up from events
What’s the point? LinkedIn is a powerful social media marketing tool. You can leverage and maximize your LinkedIn presence by completing your profile, utilizing Applications, Groups and Answers. Use these tips, strategies, quick start action plan and measurements to successfully establish relationships, network, and generate leads for your business on LinkedIn today.