The use of social media in business is now well established. While there are a plethora of guides on how to use Twitter for your business – perhaps due to how simple the platform is to use and how often it is already utilised by people in their personal lives – LinkedIn can be harder to explain in terms of benefits for micro businesses like yours.
If you are not quite sure how to use LinkedIn for the benefit of your business, this post is a must-read!
I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. It’s certainly helped raised the profile of my own SEO and Digital Marketing Magazine. And if you need more convincing of why you should bother, a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal showed that 41% of businesses surveyed felt LinkedIn was a valuable resource for small businesses, whilst only 3% felt Twitter could be a benefit to their business.
However, although businesses feel that LinkedIn is a valuable resource for their business, many are not using the social network to its full potential, tending to treat it as nothing more than an online CV.
LinkedIn has so much more to offer businesses, this post will go over a few of them and hopefully help you to see LinkedIn as a valuable traffic source and lead generation platform, rather than just an online CV or recruitment tool.
The Basics – A full Profile & a Company Page
First off you should ensure that your profile is stocked with as much information as possible.
Your profile is actually similar to an online CV, and should be filled with as much detail as you can. Take your time entering your information; this is the foundation of your LinkedIn efforts. Be sure to include:
- Your education
- Your work history (Current job position, and ideally at least 2 previous positions)
- The industry you work in, and location of employer (or your company address)
- A list of your skills (at least 3, ideally more – keep these relevant to your sector, of course)
- A decent photo on your profile
- A summary of you, giving a little background into your professional life
- Add a minimum of 50 connections.
Next you want to make your profile REALLY stand out. For this, grab a pen & paper and jot a list of:
- Any customers you have served over the last few years that were really happy with the work you carried out or your product. Make a note of any memorable interactions you had with them too.
- Everyone you have helped, given advice to, or discussed problems with over the last few years. Even a small bit of advice to a potential custom that didn’t result in a sale can be a valuable contact. As long as you helped them, they are likely to remember you and be only too happy to connect with you on LinkedIn, if they have a profile.
- Any fellow professionals you have interacted with over the last few years. Have you submitted a guest post that has been approved on someone’s blog? Perhaps you have allowed someone to publish a guest post on your blog? Even referring a client to an associated business at some point can be a source of potential connections that can help boost your profile status and authority.
Taking the list you have above, look through your email addresses for as many people as possible. Although it is possible to import contacts as a csv file, I prefer to do this manually, using this method:
Search for the person on LinkedIn using a basic ‘people’ search.
Once you have found them (not everyone will be on LinkedIn), view their profile, and get a feel for their tone of voice etc.
Click the ‘connect’ button, and write a bespoke message for each person. Include the memorable interaction you had with them to jog their memory; this really helps your request stand out from all the impersonal requests they receive using the default connect message.
Add a few contacts each day, splitting your list into chunks of requests to send in 30min, 1hr or 2hr blocks, depending on how much time you can commit on a daily basis.
Endorse to be Endorsed!
As each contact confirms your connection, re-visit their profile page. You should now be prompted by LinkedIn to endorse their skills. Go ahead and endorse the contact for any skills that you have genuine knowledge of them being competent in. If you do not see the box requesting you to do this at the top of their page, scroll down until you see their list of skills, hover over a relevant skill they have listed and click on the plus (+) symbol that appears next to it.
The profile owner will then be notified of the endorsement. Out of courtesy, most users will return the favour and endorse you for any skills you have listed on your profile that they can confirm you are competent in.
A range of endorsements from users in your network will make your profile look much more appealing to other users, as well as showing anyone viewing your profile that you are highly experienced at the skills you list. However, you should not focus on getting as many endorsements as possible, WHO you get to endorse you can have much more impact! Try to connect with several leading figures in your field of expertise and customers/clients in senior positions.
Here is what it will look like:
If you have worked with clients or other industry professionals on a project, it is possible, and recommended, to add details of that project to your profile (Edit Profile > Add Sections > Project).
This will help establish you as a figure of authority in your industry as well as showcasing your work. It can also be beneficial in helping you increase your list of connections (you can add everyone you worked with to the project with a few simple clicks).
Here is what the form should look like:
Recommendations are another feature you should use to boost your personal profile.
Don’t start off by requesting a recommendation from everyone in your connections list though! Instead give before you receive.
Visit the profile of anyone whose services you would honestly recommend to others and scroll down to their ‘Recommendations’ section. If you are signed in, the first entry in this section should ask you if you would like to recommend the connection, as per below:
Do this for every connection you would genuinely recommend. ONLY do this for people you would recommend, but at the same time, don’t be too ‘tight’. It is fine to include recommendations for people you have not met but have had interactions with, for example; have you had an interesting interaction with someone over email, where they conducted themselves in a professional manner and were helpful in a way that left you feeling you benefited from the conversation? I would say that’s cause for a recommendation.
After making several recommendations, wait a few days to see if anyone recommends you back. If they do, great! If they don’t, no stress! They may still do so at a later date, or may actually recommend you in real life to anyone they hear is looking for your products or services.
Next Steps – Asking For Recommendations
Once you have recommended a few of your connections and waited a few days, it’s time to be proactive and request some recommendations.
Visit your profile page, and hover over the small down-arrow to the right of the ‘Edit’ button, and a list should appear with ‘Ask to be recommended’ as an option, as shown below:
Click on the link and you will be taken to another page, where you can add contacts. Then, click on the address book symbol to the right of the ‘Your Connections’ box, as seen below:
This will allow you to input as many connections from your contacts list as you like, up to 200.
A good starting point would be anyone that you have added to a ‘project’ on your profile, followed by anyone that you have done business with or helped out in the past, and then lastly anyone that you have taken the time to recommend, but that has not yet recommended you in return (do NOT push this though, ask once only, and don’t repeatedly message them chasing their recommendation!).
One of the great things about recommendations is that you will usually appear on the profile of the person that recommended you. If you manage to get recommended by industry professionals, this can seriously improve your profile and increase your profile views.
For this reason, acquiring high quality recommendations is one of the best things you can do to raise your personal brand image on LinkedIn
Visit your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis, and post updates to your profile.
Updates should not just be links to your own website. Instead post a mixture of really interesting industry news, engaging content from other relevant sites (including guides etc), and also, of course, the best of the content on your own website.
Posting updates on a regular basis can help to prevent your profile becoming stagnant and boring.
Continue to visit your profile, and be sure to add any new business contacts on a regular basis, whether they be real world contacts, or people you have interacted with online. Be sure to endorse anyone new if you trust their services, and recommend anyone whose services you know can genuinely be relied upon. Repeat the above techniques for any new connections.
Online CV? Nah- Business Showcase!
By this stage, if you have followed all the steps above and taken your time to do things properly, your LinkedIn profile should now look less like a simple ‘online CV’, and more like a shining example of everything that is good about your business, with several endorsements and recommendations from other industry professionals.
LinkedIn Company Page
If your profile shows off all the reasons why people should work with you, setting you up as a true authority in your industry, a company page does exactly the same, but for your business.
On your company page, you can add general info about your business, as seen below:
As well as details about your products and services, in the ‘Services’ section:
Updates to Company Page
As well as filling out all the details on your company, and its products/services, you can breathe life into the page, and drive engagement, by posting regular updates.
Post interesting, relevant news, both on your own website, and others.
After some time, be sure the check the page insights (click the tab location next to ‘Services’, as seen in the image above). This will help you see who has looked at your page, and give you ideas for people to try to connect with.
A Final Tactic – LinkedIn Groups
By joining groups related to your industry, you can further increase your depth of involvement in the LinkedIn community.
Previously, answering questions was another great way to drive engagement and increase your profiles visibility on LinkedIn, however unfortunately LinkedIn Answers is soon to be phased out.
This means that LinkedIn Groups are even more important!
To get started with LinkedIn groups, hover over the ‘Groups’ link in the LinkedIn header, and select either ‘Groups You May Link, or Groups Directory’, as seen below:
If you have filled in your profile well, the suggested groups that LinkedIn details for you are likely to be relevant to your industry. Take a look around all the different groups in your industry (you may be surprised how many there are!) and apply to join ones that you feel are a good match to your industry. Alternatively, you can search the groups directory, or check out what groups your contacts are part of.
Aim to start off by joining just two or three active groups at first.
Join in discussions on these groups and be as helpful as you can. Do not spam the groups with promotional material or comments, just be helpful. This will help raise your LinkedIn profile even more.
Advanced LinkedIn Groups Tactic
Once you are well versed in the use of LinkedIn groups, consider starting your own group.
Depending on your industry, you could start a customer service group, a product advice group, or a how-to group. Be sure to moderate your group. As running a LinkedIn group is quite an in-depth topic, we won’t mention any more on this in this guest post.
LinkedIn Ads – Targeted Advertising Just Got Laser-Sighted!
As with running a LinkedIn Group, LinkedIn advertising deserves a whole post to itself. For now we will just mention the fact that LinkedIn adverts can be ‘laser-sighted’, narrowing the demographic details of who the advert will be shown to, even down to a person’s job title!
This makes LinkedIn adverts an excellent option for B2B businesses.
Perhaps we will cover advanced tactics like LinkedIn ads and running a LinkedIn group in a future guest post here, so be sure to keep checking back or subscribe to the Hub.
Today’s Micro Action
Is your presence on LinkedIn getting you results? If not it could be because your profile is letting you down. Take some time today to compare the optimisation advice contained in this article with your own profile and see how you can make improvements. In addition, build your relationships by endorsing people and making contact with your target customers within LinkedIn groups.