In some ways, LinkedIn is the most powerful social network to use to promote your business online. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it from looking at the site, as it isn’t nearly as user-friendly and intuitive as the more popular social networking destinations, Facebook and Twitter. So how can you get the most out of this site? Let’s look at a few tips…
First Steps: Complete Your Profile
Before you can start reaching out to new leads, it’s critical that you take the time to fill out every element of your profile. This can take some time, as LinkedIn offers many more fields to customize than other social networking sites, but the time you invest in this process will pay off, as people are more likely to do business with people and companies that have complete profiles.
Pay special attention to the work history section, as this is your chance to show off your best work to prospective clients!
LinkedIn Answers: Demonstrate Your Authority
LinkedIn’s Answers feature is an extremely underused opportunity for you to demonstrate your authority in your industry to potential customers, as well as to conduct market research to inform your future product offerings.
To get started, navigate to http://www.linkedin.com/answers while logged into your profile. From here, you have two options – you can either search for questions to answer or post your own questions in order to tap into the collective brainpower of LinkedIn’s subscribers.
If you want to show off your industry knowledge, use the “Browse” box on the right-hand sidebar to search for questions in your market. Be sure you’re looking at “Open Questions”, as you won’t be able to post an answer to closed questions. Simply find a question that you can answer, click on it and share your opinion via the “Answer Question” button.
Alternatively, if you’d like to post a question in order to learn more about your target market, navigate back to the Answers home page and type your question into the “Ask a Question” dialogue box that appears in the upper-left hand corner of the main screen. You’ll be prompted to associate your question with an industry in the next screen, but once you publish your question, you can expect to receive plenty of helpful answers that can uncover untapped markets or help you choose what product or service to launch next.
Advanced Search Features: Zero In on Key Prospects
While LinkedIn can be a great way to post information about your business and your achievements, its true strength lies in its ability to connect you with potential customers. To find the people who will be most interested in your products or services, use the LinkedIn Advanced Search feature.
For example, suppose you wanted to identify people within a 50-mile radius of your hometown in a given industry who are at least 1st or 2nd level connections with you (meaning that you have a common friend or friend-of-a-friend). Entering these values into the Advanced Search feature would give you a list of these professionals, who you could then connect with through LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Groups: Social Networking for Business Professionals
According to the Social Media Examiner,
“Creating a LinkedIn group gives you the ability to generate an amazing number of leads from high-end decision makers. If your sales funnel is set up correctly, you will have more than enough prospects to grow your business.”
To harness the power of these online professional networking groups, you can either join an existing group or start your own. There are currently plenty of interesting LinkedIn Groups to join (some of the most popular include the “Social Media Marketing” and “On Startups” communities), which will give you access to already-established communities full of people in your market.
Alternatively, if you aren’t able to find a LinkedIn Group that meets your needs, you can always start your own! If you do decide to create your own group, be sure to use your target keywords in both the group’s title and description, as this will help your community get noticed on LinkedIn and in the search engines. As you begin to attract members, keep things active by tying your site’s RSS feed to your group and sending out regular messages to your subscribers to provide value for their memberships.
While it’s true that LinkedIn does have a bit of a learning curve, it’s still a great place to find qualified leads for your business. Give it a try today and harness the power of traditional business networking online!