LinkedIn may be a social website with tools for networking, references, and job hunting, but it has another huge potential. It can be a fantastic platform to grow your business as well — if you use it right.
There are plenty of great resources on the topic, including this post from Hubspot and this one from CopyBlogger CFO Sean Jackson. From these and my own experiences, I want to share six powerful ways to utilize LinkedIn to grow your business:
1. By Eliminating “Gatekeepers”
If you’ve ever had to cold-call regularly, you’ll know what I mean when I say it is a terrible way to make sales. People are usually not interested in hearing what some stranger has to say, and it ends up wasting my time and costing me money. No thanks.
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From having to contact a low-level employee, to having to wait on replies, to having to make an empty sales pitch, it’s just an inefficient way to do business. It’s one of the main reasons content marketing has become the superior marketing platform. It eliminates this wasteful function.
With that said, you still have to reach out to prospects eventually, and LinkedIn provides a great tool to do so. Not only can you decipher who you want to talk to immediately and easily by searching company profiles, you can message these people directly. Just make sure not to make the same mistakes I see often on LinkedIn. With a well crafted message sent directly to your person of interest, you can reach out with a much greater level of success than with cold-calling.
2. By Utilizing Advanced Search
Perhaps the most unique and powerful aspect of LinkedIn, compared to other social media sites, is your ability to filter users by key demographics. If you are looking for a specific customer you can filter through contacts by industry, company size, the person’s position in the company, and much more. It’s one of the best databases available for searching for business professionals.
You can also sign up for LinkedIn Premium if you want more options. This feature offers some useful tools like InMail (which allows you to message any user directly without needing contact info), an expanded search results page, a contact organizer, and more.
3. By Making Valuable Connections
LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a networking site. Take full advantage of this feature and search out key influencers in your industry. Each connection gives you a secondary link to their connections, and so on, giving you a potential network of thousands relatively easily. When finding people to grow your professional network, look for these criteria on their profile first:
Profile Picture – While it may not seem that important, the lack of a picture usually tells you they do not frequent their profile, making messages and communication pretty useless.
150+ Connections – Unless you know these people, you are looking for industry professionals, not someone just starting out. Focus on making quality connections rather than linking to anyone willing to listen. Plus, connecting with influencers who have a lot of connections means you can grow your network much more quickly and efficiently.
Career Summary – Check their summary for relevant experience and expertise. People who value their experience and include it on their profile tend to have a much larger network and frequent the site more regularly.
4. By Sending Personal Messages
Never send impersonal messages. I get this garbage all the time and I can guarantee I am not only ignoring this request, I likely won’t even read the message. LinkedIn allows you to see tons of information, so if you want to reach out to someone, go check out their company website or other webpages. If you happen to have a shared connection, mention them. Give them a reason they should read your message and share the value you can give them.
5. By Initiating Contact
Once you contact someone and your invitation gets accepted, don’t wait for a reply. If you initiated the contact, you have to provide the next steps to your lead. If you want to make a discovery call or meeting, ask them if they have time for a short phone conversation to discuss business opportunities for the future.
6. By Offering Help
While LinkedIn works great as a marketing tool, that should not be your only focus. As a networking site, it is excellent for making connections and advancing careers. Help other users by contributing to group discussions, by referring people, or by offering some valuable advice. Making this connection allows you to maintain a healthy relationship even if they decide your product is not helpful. You still get that contact and their connections.
What have you seen from users on LinkedIn? Do you still think it’s a valuable resource after using it? Please let us know what you find helpful and share any ideas on this post in the comments below.
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