Social Media: How to make LinkedIn your business ally
Let’s get stuck into it today with LinkedIn, the fastest growing social media platform for professionals. It's part 4 of my social media series.
What’s LinkedIn all about?
LinkedIn is a social media platform for grown ups!
It’s an online Yellow Pages that you can engage with and network on. It’s about making business connections and building your professional reputation. It’s for job searching, recruitment and courting potential clients or bosses. It’s for promoting your digital CV. And checking out the competition’s CV.
It’s serious, business stuff but it’s also engaging, informative and good spirited.
LinkedIn has over 465 million users, across 200 countries, including over 40% of millionaires and 40 million students and recent graduates.
Should you be on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is like being invited to a party with people you’re only just acquainted with. When you arrive, you probably won’t go around and speak to every single person in the room. Rather, you’ll have a few really good conversations with 3 or 4 interesting or like-minded people that you meet by the dip bowl. Then you’ll that you made the effort to go.
So, if you have a good attitude about meeting people, engaging in conversation and making connections, then you’ll feel right at home with LinkedIn.
But LinkedIn isn’t for everyone. In fact, lots of small business owners and freelancers may skip LinkedIn altogether because it’s not in their niche. The kind of businesses that are on Instagram, for example, are probably not going to be on LinkedIn.
Like I’ve said before, you don’t want to be across every social media platform ever. You’ve got to focus on where your niche and your audience is at.
LinkedIn is great for a lot of traditional fields like marketing, communications, banking, education, mining, IT, healthcare etc. Big companies use it for industry research, universities keep track of their alumni, and job seekers use it to suss out companies and well, job seek.
What do freelancers and niche business owners get out of LinkedIn?
Again, it really depends on your field but there is definitely potential for just about any business. You should definitely consider LinkedIn if:
- Your business revolves around any of the traditional industries mentioned above;
- You want to get a job in any of these fields;
- You’re a freelance writer, marketer, web designer, researcher, accountant, virtual assistant, photographer etc with clients in these fields;
- You’re a business writer and blogger
How my business interacts with LinkedIn
Initially I joined LinkedIn when I was solely freelance writing and wanted to get more corporate work. My strategy then was along the lines of "cold connecting" people with in my ideal industry and trying to make meaningful networks. I wasn’t very successful. Perhaps I was targeting the wrong people or my spiel wasn’t focused enough.
But it’s okay that it didn’t work out. So much of marketing a business on social media is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
I returned to LinkedIn this year in a different capacity. It’s part of my content strategy in supplying my followers with interesting and relevant information and also some business promotion. I post regular updates (similar to my Twitter account) and I republishing my blog posts as Articles.
For me, LinkedIn is on the periphery of my marketing strategy. I don’t get much blog traffic or direct client sales because I’ve stepped back from regular engagement but it does go towards building my professional online persona (known as “building authority”), which is important for my work in digital business marketing.
And some time in the near future, I’d like to ramp up my LinkedIn engagement. When that happens, it will help that I’ve laid the groundwork with a solid bunch of articles and helpful content.
If you’re trying to grow your work contacts and get more corporate leads, I think that LinkedIn can be invaluable. But you really need to give it your all. I have freelance friends who have found several well paid and reliable work contracts through their LinkedIn activity. They’ve shared a few of their tips with me here.
6 tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn account
1. Check out how other people do things
LinkedIn is all about your profile; this is your digital CV, after all. Most people won’t bother to read your updates, articles or check out your volunteer experience. They will look at your profile summary and photo though.
Here’s a good article on how to set up your LinkedIn profile. I always find that writing the summary is the hardest, so take a look round at your competitors or industry people that you admire to see what they’ve done.
2. Be very clear about what you do
Your professional headline (that goes under your name) is probably the most important part of your profile. It’s the first and most impressionable thing that people see when searching on LinkedIn. So it has be informative and appealing. All in less than 2 lines. No pressure!
3. Remember your end game
LinkedIn isn't about gaining followers or shares. It’s about making the right kind of work connections for your business and your industry.
If you want to direct your connections back to your blog, for example, think about posting teaser articles with a blog link; or if you want potential clients to contact you directly, make sure your contact details are upfront and centre in your profile.
4. Connect with people
Don't just collect "connections" but actively choose people in your industry and line of work. If someone connect with you, take the time to send them a quick note saying hello and asking why they connected with you. Just by sending this prompt and showing your initiative, you could score yourself a new work opportunity or contact.
5. Join a LinkedIn group
Similar to Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups are a great source of information, connections and job prospects. But unlike other social media groups, you can be quite upfront about your business/website/blog posts without worrying about hawking your wares; everyone’s there for the same reason.
You’ll need to apply to join a group, which means you need to have a full and purposeful profile, and then to engage in the group by commenting on and liking others’ posts, asking questions and generally being helpful.
6. Be generous with endorsements
Everyone loves a good rating! And on LinkedIn, other users can endorse your skills. It’s as easy as clicking a button. I endorse people I know all the time (for stuff I already know they can do!) and eventually, most of them endorse me back. This info goes on your profile so people can scroll down and see if your strengths match your headline.
I hope this helps with making LinkedIn your business ally and part of your growing marketing strategy!
Tell me, have you joined LinkedIn? Has it helped your business?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves helping freelancers and small businesses get online with web design and content, blogging and her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos.