Companies of all sizes have bought into the idea that social media can be beneficial for their businesses. Whether image marketing on Pinterest, engaging customers on Facebook or even posting vacancies on Twitter, social media sites provide a new way to communicate.
LinkedIn is often overlooked but, as the world’s leading business-oriented social media platform, it has a lot to offer. With 300 million members in more than 200 countries, the site can be invaluable in building contacts that can help you grow your business.
Here are six tips to help you get the most out of LinkedIn:
Spend some time on your profile
Your corporate website is like a virtual shop window, You can choose to set up a company page, which is essentially like having your own mini-website within LinkedIn, but with your personal profile you’re selling yourself. You need to flag your skills, experience and expertise and give people a reason to connect, communicate and ultimately do business with you.
LinkedIn claims that users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through the site so make sure you fill in all fields and ensure the inbuilt ‘completeness’ guide hits 100 percent. A professional looking photo is a must and you should also provide details of your sector or industry, current and past positions, education or skills. You can also link to other social profiles and your website, giving a handy boost to your SEO in the process.
Build your contacts list
LinkedIn is all about making connections but don’t be tempted to go for quality over quantity. You can use e-mail lists and digital address books to find existing contacts who are already on the site and send invites to those who aren’t. You should also be on the lookout for valuable new contacts but sending out bulk requests to strangers can be annoying and counter-productive. Try to personalize each request and give a brief reason for the contact.
Try to make regular contact with your connections and not just when you want something from them. This can be difficult if your connections run into the hundreds or thousands but LinkedIn can automatically ping you when your connections undergo certain changes like taking a new job. Send congratulations, respond to interesting updates and nurture an ongoing relationship.
Use LinkedIn for multiple purposes
LinkedIn is perfect for general networking purposes but the fact that it is a site for professionals means it can also be used for promoting your own services or finding ones that you need, finding freelancers for one-off or on-going assignments, posting jobs and finding new permanent staff. Advanced search options allow you to explore specific industries, companies and prospects to help you make the most of the site.
Join groups and be active
LinkedIn Groups provide a great way to connect with other professionals in your sector or field of interest. You can ask for advice, benefit from others’ ideas and expertise and also showcase your own. You can also start your own group, but in some areas there might already be a surfeit and you will have to grow your membership by offering great, regular content and establishing yourself as an authority in the field. It can help to narrow your focus to a particular niche rather than trying to represent an entire sector.
Your status update is another good place to flag up content, whether linking to your new blog or a video or news item relevant to your field. You can also use it to make announcements related to yourself or your company. Remember that LinkedIn is a business-oriented site and tends to be used in a different way to most other social media sites. The odd ‘social’ post is OK but try to keep the majority of your updates relevant to your business and keep the amusing cat videos for your (personal) Facebook profile.
Recommendations are brief statements provided by those who know you attesting to your skills and qualities. Endorsements are essentially a simpler, quicker version allowing a member to endorse a connection for a particular skill at the click of a button. Both can allow people viewing your profile to see that others recognize and value your competencies. One of the best ways to earn recommendations and endorsements is to leave them for others you know and have worked with. You can also put in polite requests to previous clients or employers.
Consider LinkedIn ads
Posting an ad on LinkedIn might not have the same reach as one on Facebook or Google AdWords but it can be very tightly targeted and highly effective if you know your target demographic. Your targeting options could be as narrow as a specific job title or a job function, such as marketing or engineering. You can also target by location, industry, company or even LinkedIn groups. You can also select either a basic advertisement that follows the traditional text and image format, or a video ad that includes a play button on the image.
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