LinkedIn Basics for Small Business Owners
LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks in the world, and since it’s used more for professional connections than any of the other major social networks, it’s a great way to promote yourself and your small business. You can build connections with potential clients and colleagues when you use LinkedIn correctly.
The key is that you make valuable connections. LinkedIn won’t be of any help if you just add people to your network and then never talk to them or auto-send them a prewritten, generic message that you send everyone. To get the most out of LinkedIn, follow these best practices.
Optimize Your Profile
Your public profile is the first thing people see when they look you up on LinkedIn or when they find your page through a search. You want it to leave a great impression.
Start with a professional photo for your profile picture, or at least a photo that looks professional. With the quality of cell phone cameras, you can easily set the timer and take a great headshot.
You’ll want to add all the basic information to your profile, including your skills, past positions and current position. One of the most important parts of your profile is your summary. Visitors are much more likely to read your summary than your entire page, so your summary needs to reach out and grab them.
Set Up Your Company Page
You should also create a company page for your small business. Start with the overview. Just like the summary on your personal profile, the overview will be one of the first things visitors see, so it needs to sell them on your business.
Images can get people’s attention, but you need to choose images that are relevant to your business. In particular, your company page needs to have a great banner image.
Make sure to cross link all your sites and profiles. Include links to your business’s site and blog on its LinkedIn company page, and include the link for its company page on your site and blog. You want people to easily jump from your site to your company page, and vice versa.
Connect with Other Users the Right Way
Too many LinkedIn users become obsessed with seeing their networks grow, so they sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to their connections. It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of followers who don’t care about your business, so resist the temptation to go on an adding spree for an ego boost.
What you should do instead is search for people who could benefit from your business. For example, if you have a graphic design business, you could perform a search for site owners, as they will likely need a graphic designer if they don’t have one already.
By searching for people who fit your target market, you’ll make better connections. Once you add someone to your network or they add you, you need to build that connection more by getting in touch with them. Send them a short message to introduce yourself.
This is another area where many users take the wrong approach. They set up automatic messages that go out to every new connection. It’s obvious to the recipient that this is an automatic message, so it’s going to make that recipient feel like he is just another number for the sender.
Instead, take a personalized approach. Before you send a message, check out the recipient’s profile and look for at least one thing that you can refer back to, such as his position or a former position. This shows that you took the time to learn about him, which creates a much better first impression.
When you tell connections about your small business, it’s best to integrate it naturally into your message. If you can connect your business to something the recipient does, that’s even better. Above all else, you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard to sell to your connections.
Share Your Content
Content marketing is a vital part of any company’s marketing mix, including on LinkedIn. Blog posts are one of the most popular types of content people share on LinkedIn, and you can post it on LinkedIn Pulse. The good news about this is if your blog post becomes popular, there’s the potential for it to get millions of viewers.
If you’re already creating blog posts for your site, you can also put them on LinkedIn. You have two options here as far as how you format the post. You can post a portion of the post with a link to your site to read the rest, if your main goal is getting people on your site. Or you can post the whole thing on LinkedIn, but still include that link to your site. The former could result in a higher percentage of people clicking through to your site, but it could also mean less readers overall.
Have a Game Plan
LinkedIn is a useful tool when you use it correctly, but logging on and aimlessly adding connections isn’t going to help you much. What you should do instead is have a game plan for LinkedIn that you follow when you log on.
Your game plan could be responding to any connection requests and messages, adding two to three more connections and either commenting on another user’s content or sharing your own. Having a plan keeps you on track so you can be more efficient.
Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. You can expose your business to a larger audience on there and make great connections that could turn out to be some of your best clients. Plenty of people use LinkedIn, though, and you don’t want to end up as just another user making meaningless connections. Follow the right practices as you use the site to ensure that you get the best results.