Social media marketing, part of digital marketing, is a great way to build relationships and grow your business. It’s no surprise Linkedin recently ranked as the second most popular social media platform in the world. If you’re not making the most of your Linkedin account, here are 17 steps to grow your business on Linkedin.
1. Complete your profile.
I know this sounds kind of obvious but when I search for someone’s Linkedin profile who I have just connected with or who has just become a client of mine, I very rarely find a profile that is 100% complete. If Linkedin is prompting you every time you log in that you still need to do something to complete your profile, do it! It will help you in the long run and often the bits you are leaving out could be the exact thing that someone is searching the platform for.
2. Include your past – warts and all.
I can understand the temptation to omit something in your professional past you might not be all that proud of – maybe a failed business or working for someone you are now in direct competition with or something similar. However, it is exactly this kind of thing that adds depth to your profile and makes you more like someone who others would want to be connected to. Transparency and honesty are still among the most valuable assets you can have as a small business owner, and by including absolutely everything, you will be doing yourself a favor.
3. Make better friends with Google.
As Guy Kawasaki suggests, you should take advantage of the fact that the information you include in your Linkedin profile can be indexed by all of the search engines, including Google. “Since Linkedin profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you.
Instead of saying President of “My Company” you should use keywords that better describe what you do i.e. Social Media Marketing and Management Solutions Specialist – Keyword rich and not as boring!
To do this, create a public profile and select “Full View.” Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web i.e. when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature.”
4. Make your business a Linkedin Company.
Linkedin Companies is an in-built tool that lets you list your business and your employees right there in Linkedin. You can list your business for free as long as you have a registered, company-owned email domain, and it’s simple to set it up:
1. On your Linkedin home page, find ‘Companies’ under the ‘More…’menu tab.
2. Near the top on the right hand side of the next page, click on ‘Add a Company’.
3. Then just fill in your details and a confirmation email will be sent to you.
4. When you receive the confirmation link and click on it, you can then start to include relevant information about your business. Remember to include lots of information here because you never know what people might be searching for on Linkedin.
5. Keep your consistent message.
A survey showed (out of more than 400 respondents) 92% said they trusted a social media account with someone’s face on it, regardless of the content they were promoting, compared to an account with either a logo or generic photo.
So, when you are completing your profile, include the same image or avatar you use on your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts – keep that consistent message and Linkedin will become just another branch on your social engagement tree.
6. Start connecting.
I don’t mean just start adding hundreds of random people to your network, but there is probably a lot of your current or new contacts who are already on Linkedin but they may not be a direct connection of yours yet.
Again under the ‘Contacts’ drop down from the navigation bar on your Linkedin home page, click on ‘Add Connections’. From there you can add people using their email address, add people who are already a contact of yours on another platform, colleagues of yours in your present position or maybe from your past employment, even people who you went to school or university with. Linkedin will also suggest people who you may already know based on your current direct connections.
Before you can add anyone to your network, Linkedin asks you how you actually know them – this is so you can’t just spam random people – and then you can add a personalised note to the person you are asking to connect with.
7. Join a Group.
There are thousands of groups of like-minded or business connected people on Linkedin. They work much like Facebook Groups where there are administrators and the members of the groups can opt-in to receiving regular updates from the group and/or its members. People can start discussions, ask questions and interact with each other in the knowledge that they all share a common interest or goal.
To search for a group you might like to be involved in, click on the ‘Groups’ menu on the top navigation bar on the Linkedin home page.
You’re allowed up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Join almost that many. By joining at least 45, you still have “room” for another interesting group. Groups are how you get things done on LinkedIn. I’m always amazed when someone just has one or two groups, or, even worse, no groups. By joining groups people can get to know you and your business.
What’s the use of belonging to groups if you’re not out there as an influencer? None, really.
Don’t be a vapid bystander. Participate! Post discussions on your groups on a regular basis.
But be careful. Make the discussion to be something of actual interest to the group. Posting a link to your website to sell something or, even worse, a sleazy video like one person did in a discussion I am following, will just make people avoid you like the plague. Post articles (that aren’t self serving), announcements, real events (not promoting or selling your product or service), requests for real advice, and discussions about a topic relevant to the group. Again, no selling!
If you’re just a poster and not a participant, it will become clear you are just in it to promote yourself, rather than be a fully participating member of the LinkedIn community. Participate in threads with useful remarks. Again, no selling! And no “trolling,” either! If you must make political comments, be polite. Don’t attack people. I’m not saying to weasel your words. I am saying to be civil. If you participate in threads, follow the same rules as above. Be useful, not self-promoting.
8. Or start your own Group.
Can’t find a group of like-minded people or feel like you have something interesting and engaging to tell other like-minded or business connected people? You can also start your own group. You become the administrator of the group and if your discussions and messages are compelling enough, people will join it – maybe lots of people.
This is a great way to promote yourself and your business and more importantly, establish yourself as the expert in your particular field. It’s also a way to show yourself as a person who is interested in developing other people’s business interests and connections. And it’s free!
9. Random acts of (business) kindness.
A great way to engage people and show a more personalized, human face to your interactions on LinkedIn is to surprise someone in your network with a random act of kindness in the form of a recommendation.
Recommendations are basically references for the work of someone in your network. The recommendation appears in the updates as well as on that person’s LinkedIn profile page and might be the difference between that person receiving some new business or not.
To recommend someone in your network, go to that person’s LinkedIn profile page and just to the right of their picture, click on ‘Recommend this person’.
Recommendations are free to give and great to receive.
Get recommendations…lots of them. Recommendations are essential to you. Seek them proactively and seek them passively. Proactive recommendation seeking involves reaching out and asking someone to recommend you. Passive recommendation seeking involves recommending someone, at which point LinkedIn asks them to recommend you back. The latter is actually a bit more effective.
10. Let it be known you are an open Networker.
There are two philosophies on LinkedIn. One is more effective than the other. The first, and, in my opinion, completely lame philosophy is you only connect with people you know well. That is LinkedIn’s official philosophy, although they really speak with a forked tongue on this one. This will keep your connections pretty low, and will not build your network.
The other philosophy — the one to which I subscribe — is to accept all or almost all connection requests, at least from individuals. I don’t really like connecting with companies (unless I know the owner), and I am cautious about connecting with someone without a photo (because it could be a fake profile).
The second philosophy will build your network much more rapidly. Here’s the deal. You may have no interest in networking with the individual who invites you. But you might have an interest in someone in his or her network. Connecting gives you access to that network. The more connections, the more likely it is that someone you want to meet will be “in network.” This makes your life on LinkedIn much easier.
I see LinkedIn as a very large networking party. Now, at a networking party you don’t just go up to people you know and talk to them. Or, if you do, you’re a lousy networker. So why should I only talk to people I already know. LinkedIn has helped me meet some great new friends, business associates, and networking partners. I’ve gotten clients through LinkedIn. I’ve contacted hiring authorities for my clients through LinkedIn. And I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet very interesting and dynamic people through LinkedIn. All of this is because I’ve ignored the status quo that says I should only connect with people I know well! Connect and be an open networker.
11. Accept everyone, but invite strategically.
What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to build your business in a particular city? Then invite people from that city for the most part. Are you trying to go international? Make sure you invite people who can help you internationally. Don’t just invite everyone who pops up on “people you may know.” Invite to build your network the way you want to build it.
12. Diversify your Contacts.
I noticed a while back my contact list was looking pretty homogeneous. Almost everyone in there was white, 50-ish, and female. So, in my inviting, I have made it a goal to invite men, people of color and younger people. Part of the problem is, of course, that LinkedIn itself is predominately middle aged, white and male. But there are plenty of others if you look. And you should look. And, of course, feel free to invite me. I accept all invitations from individuals (not companies or fake profiles).
13. Use your Network.
While I really don’t like my network selling their products or services to me, I am fine with announcements or questions. I make it a point to answer every question I get through LinkedIn (or from my readers of my magazine). If you have a question that needs asking — ask the network. If you have something stupendous — share it with your network. You will get to be known this way and people will naturally come to you for many different needs.
Answer a question. Similar to Yahoo! Answers, LinkedIn has its own Q&A portal called LinkedIn Answers. Members can ask, and more importantly answer, questions from anyone on LinkedIn – even if they are not currently in their direct network.
The answering of members’ questions can be very valuable in establishing you as the expert in your particular field and it also shows that you are interested in developing other people’s business knowledge which doesn’t hurt either. The answers you provide become part of your profile and demonstrate your expertise to your connections, potential business partners or employers.
By using the ‘Advanced Answers Search’ you can narrow down the questions asked to your local area, your particular expertise or the date on which they were asked.
14. Update regularly.
If you go to your home screen, you can see a place to update your network. Use it frequently. It is like a tweet, but it goes to LinkedIn. You can also tweet your update if you wish. Also update your profile frequently. Your job and needs are changing. Don’t keep the same stuff in your profile. Update all of the time.
You can also link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your LinkedIn account so that it updates automatically when you post to either account.
15. Network Stats and LinkedIn Ads.
On your LinkedIn home page, under the ‘Contacts’ drop down menu along the top, click on ‘Network Statistics’. This will bring up your total network stats – how many direct connections you have made on LinkedIn, how many are in your direct networks and how many are on the total LinkedIn platform. It also gives you detailed stats about where your network is geographically located and what industries they operate in.
Why is this important?
That huge network could be waiting to hear more about you and your small business! I work with a lot of my clients producing great copy and putting together great offers to produce compelling and engaging Facebook Ads and this is something that we have had great success with in the last 12 months. You are probably aware of the subtle ads throughout the LinkedIn platform as well but have you thought about placing one of your own?
Just life Facebook Ads, the beauty of LinkedIn’s DirectAds lies in the targeting available to promoters on the platform. You can target a very specific audience by geography, job function and seniority, industry and company size, and gender and age.
Also like with Facebook Ads, YOU control how much you spend. You can pay for a certain number of times your ad is displayed on members’ profiles, or by how many times your ad gets clicked on. You can stop your ads at any time, and there are no long-term contracts or commitments.
However, just like with Facebook Ads, it is easy to get just a little bit of the copy of headline wrong, or target the wrong audience and you won’t have any success with them. If you would like to know how I can help you connect with your target market by helping you produce engaging Facebook or LinkedIn Ads.
16. Post a job.
80% of companies are now using LinkedIn for their recruitment. If you have a position available, or if you are looking for a position and you want to target a specific industry or type of candidate rather than just advertising for everyone to see it, maybe posting a job on LinkedIn would work well for you.
Job posts cost $195 for a 30 day spot and the best part is that you have access to applicant’s profiles right there on LinkedIn so the chances of any nasty surprises at or after interview are greatly reduced.
17. LinkedIn Apps.
LinkedIn Applications enable you to enrich your profile, share and collaborate with your network, and get the key insights that help you be more effective. Applications are added to your homepage and profile enabling you to control who gets access to what information.
You find these applications under the “More” Tab at the top of your profile page. Scroll down to the “Get More Applications” link to open the Applications Window.
Samples of Apps:
SlideShare Presentations by SlideShare Inc
SlideShare is the best way to share presentations on LinkedIn! You can upload & display your own presentations, check out presentations from your colleagues, and find experts within your network.
Portfolio Display by Behance
Showcase your creative work in your LinkedIn Profile with the Creative Portfolio Display application. Free, easy to manage, and supports unlimited multimedia content
Company Buzz by LinkedIn
Ever wonder what people are saying about your company? Company Buzz shows you the twitter activity associated with your company. View tweets, trends and top key words. Customize your topics and share with your coworkers.
E-Bookshelf by FT Press
Tap into the insights of the leading minds in business, E-Bookshelf by FT Press-essential reading for success. Read quick, concise business and career lessons from the top experts. Read the content you want, when you want and at a great value.
WordPress by WordPress
Connect your virtual lives with the WordPress LinkedIn Application. With the WordPress App, you can sync your WordPress blog posts with your LinkedIn profile, keeping everyone you know in the know.
Go check them all out and add to your profile page!