LinkedIn is unique among the elite pillars of today’s social media landscape.
First, LinkedIn is set up to facilitate B2B activities – networking, connecting, informing, and marketing. In fact, it may be the best online B2B venue available. (No cat videos, please!)
Second, only 20% of the 500 million-member behemoth’s revenue derives from advertising. All other major social networks are virtually 100% ad supported. LinkedIn management and the marketplace agree – LinkedIn has tremendous value as the world’s largest, most comprehensive business database.
Small business owners in particular can use LinkedIn to succeed – either being “found” by their target customers, or using LinkedIn advanced search techniques to fill a virtual room full of sales prospects…and then using LinkedIn tools and social media techniques to encourage the next step in the sales cycle.
Being “found” on LinkedIn is not a myth – it happens frequently – and you should be doing several things to help make it happen.
The first is optimizing your individual profile. Several areas of your profile have greater importance in LinkedIn searches, and doing those right means showing up higher in search results and more people seeing your profile. (If people are not seeing your profile, is there any point in having one?)
Especially important areas are your branding headline, your Summary, your personalized URL, your job titles and descriptions, and your recommendations/endorsements. By the way, did you realize Google and other search engines index your LinkedIn profile page individually? Get it right and more people will find you on Google, too.
Now that you’ve optimized your profile, build your network of LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn search results only show you members you’re connected to, either 1st-level, 2nd-level, or 3rd-level, or people in groups you belong to. So having a larger, but still targeted network, means more people will see your profile when they search.
A larger, better network of connections also means you’ll also see more of the right people when you run a search. With a little practice and some advanced search techniques, you can identify lists of qualified prospects, save the searches, and even have LinkedIn notify you of new results that fit those criteria.
Best of all, you can use LinkedIn to determine the best way to follow up with each prospect. A key “Aha! Moment” as a LinkedIn user is when you realize “Hey, I can use LinkedIn to see who my friends know!”
Take things even further by turning your LinkedIn profile page into an “information hub” for people in your target market. Share information from others, create your own blog posts and comments, and build a reputation and a digital trail that leads to you as a thought leader for your industry.
LinkedIn’s “status updates” and Pulse blogging tool are extremely powerful and easy to use. Use them as the primary building block in your content marketing strategy; or amplify your messages by coordinating with your efforts across multiple platforms.
The Savannah Small Business Development Center is presenting a workshop August 10th called “Using LinkedIn to Build Influence” – I’ll be there, presenting in detail how to use these techniques. For more information and to register, check out our website (https://www.georgiasbdc.org/using-linkedin-to-build-influence/) or call (912) 651-3200.
Peter Williams is a Business Consultant with the Macon Center of the SBDC and is on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/peterwilliamscfa/