LinkedIn is probably the biggest internet social network of working professionals in the world. It’s similar to other social networks like Facebook or Google+, but users on LinkedIn are mostly connected based on their professional occupations and interests. It is a great place if you’re looking for the new job possibilities or if you are looking for some kind of professional advice. But, LinkedIn is not just a place where potential job seekers can search for better career opportunities. It is also the place which can be used by all kinds of business managers or business owners to improve their business in numerous different ways.
When wondering how to use LinkedIn to improve business you must be aware that there is a difference between small businesses and big corporations when usage of LinkedIn is concerned. Big corporations are usually using LinkedIn for head-hunting. Their Human Resources divisions are simply using LinkedIn, together with the other methods like job sites or newspaper advertising, as a way to find interesting candidates for their job openings. The other way that LinkedIn is used by big corporations is for marketing and PR purposes.
On the other hand small-business owners or managers are using LinkedIn in number of different situations. When used correctly LinkedIn is great tool to find new customers, clients, business partners or employees or to gain knowledge about different aspects of your business.
A successful business depends on networking. The growth of an organization’s social capital via the resources available through business and personal networks is an important component of a business’ development. Shared among the members of the group, it creates value and facilitates the actions of the individuals within that social structure. Social capital acts as the glue that connects people and shows inter-connectivity and interdependence.
In the last decade or so, modern technology and the prevalence of social media has made it even easier for people to develop their networks. With 135 million members scattered around 200 countries, effectively LinkedIn can be a surefire way of growing your business. For those who are just beginning to build their LinkedIn profiles, here are 17 tips and tricks to get the most out of it in growing your business.
1. Use LinkedIn to hire the best people. LinkedIn’s Corporate Solutions can be used by companies when they want to hire new staff. Posting open jobs can be quite easy. Assessing potential candidates is convenient since their profiles, skill sets and connections can easily be viewed. Some companies give employees referral bonuses for leveraging their LinkedIn connections and finding qualified people who can join the business.
2. Use LinkedIn as your knowledge base when facing a problem or need any advice about the parts of your business operations where you are not an expert. For example, if you acquired a non-local client and you’re wondering what is the best and cheapest way to deliver your products there are number of logistics and transportation experts on LinkedIn who will gladly give you some advice. Use LinkedIn Groups and Answers to find a solution to your problem.
3. Use LinkedIn to acquire new customers through personal recommendations. Ask your satisfied clients to give you written recommendation you can publish on your LinkedIn profile, so it can be viewed by millions of users. Having several recommendations will give you a huge advantage when compared to your competitors which don’t have any.
4. Use LinkedIn to find the right partner to outsource some of your business operations where you’re not the expert. For example, if you’re running a gym or are a personal trainer many of your clients will ask you about food and vitamin supplements. If you’re not familiar with the subject it’s better to find someone who is. You can arrange a deal with that partner where you will send him your clients interested in food supplements and he will send you his clients who wish to start exercising.
5. Source out new suppliers. As a business owner, deep relationships are formed with suppliers and other vendors. Sometimes, those relationships may not go the distance. LinkedIn can be used to search out new suppliers, foster competition among bidders and get the best deals, leading to lower costs for the business.
6. Partnerships with allied business. Some businesses outside your industry may have the same customer profile. For example people who buy luxury cars often buy expensive watches. Use LinkedIn to form connections with the business and partner up to gain new clients. A win-win for both companies.
7. Be more visible. Create a page for your business. Company pages offer public information about the organization. LinkedIn members can search and follow companies that they are interested in. Regularly share an update to promote what your business can do.
8. Keep up with current trends. Knowledge is power and keeping informed with the latest trends will allow business owners to be quick to respond to the needs of the consumers. LinkedIn has a section containing the latest news in the business world.
9. Join your industry associations or group on LinkedIn or start a new one. Being a member of a recognized association builds up credibility in the minds of business partners or customers.
10. Connect your LinkedIn account with Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and use all those networks to create a positive buzz about your business.
11. Use LinkedIn to see what your competitors are doing and adjust your business strategy accordingly.
12. Use LinkedIn to find potential investors in your business operations. Be active on your industry forums and groups, present an outline of your business plan and see if there is someone willing to invest money and participate in your business operations. Also, if some business activity is too big for you to perform by yourself, look for someone with similar problem so you can join your resources. For example, if you’re an importer of goods from China you should import the whole container of products so you can keep your costs per unit down. But the whole container might be too much for your market share, so the best way is to find someone to join forces. Both partners would import only the half of the container while keeping all the advantages of economy of scale.
13. Up your credibility. LinkedIn has an answers section where members can ask questions. Spending time answering these questions will get you and your business known and improve your reputation as an expert in your line of work. Members who are impressed by the quality of answers may end up becoming clients. You could expect lots of inquires about your services and turning those answer seekers into new clients is much easier than cold calling.
14. Powerful SEO tool. LinkedIn has very powerful search engine optimization tools. Most of the time, when a LinkedIn profile for the company is present, it is shown at the very top of a search. Having a LinkedIn profile helps your company be more visible on Google and search sites.
15. Promote events. Create a LinkedIn announcement for any event your business is planning to have. It’s a very effective way of getting attendees. Once a member chooses to attend, that RSVP will be shown on his home profile, making it visible to all his connections. It’s word of mouth advertising for the modern age.
16. Pitch your services. LinkedIn has a lot of built-in apps which can be utilized to promote and sell your services. Use the SlideShare app to upload a presentation about your business and the services you offer.
17. Join groups and seek out customers. Groups comprise members who share the same interests. Sign up for those that reflect the profile of your target market and interact with them. Do not hard sell but rather build your reputation with them. Making comments in the group will allow you to form connections with the subscribers of that group.
Because LinkedIn is a business network, it is made up of professional people seeking to make new and meaningful connections. By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, entrepreneurs will be able to achieve significant growth in their business. So what, are you waiting for?
Stephen and Kerrie Butler operate the Business Sustainability Institute, they partner with small and medium size businesses to fix their problems and help realize their dreams.