Social media’s most professional network is rolling out a new feature that could help your business grow. LinkedIn users can now follow channels, which are broken into broad-based topics such as marketing strategies, higher education and healthcare. Once you follow a channel, it shows up on your home feed.
What’s the benefit, you ask? According to LinkedIn, following channels that are connected to your business will keep you ahead of industry trends and allow you to engage with business leaders.
Hope Katz Gibbs, president of Inkandescent Public Relations, says the new feature has a lot of potential in the business-to-business world. “By following channels you’ll start networking with others in your industry,” she said. “That connection builds trust. Trust turns into recommendations for your business and recommendations turn into profits.”
While there are many ways to use LinkedIn to grow your business, Gibbs offers these networking tips to get the most out of LinkedIn’s new channels.
Tip #1: Find credible information
The benefit of following channels that are connected to your industry is that you’re connected to people who can provide credible insight and advice, Gibbs said. Let’s say you’re in the tech world and a new cell phone comes out that’s got consumers buzzing. Odds are, you’ll find information about that new product on a LinkedIn channel and you can read posts about it and engage with other industry leaders who might have an inside track.
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“LinkedIn’s channels are like a business news portal,” Gibbs said. “The information you get on LinkedIn is from your peers, which in theory is more credible than finding random articles through Google.”
Tip #2: Follow influencers
Aside from following channels, LinkedIn also allows you to follow influencers. You can click on influencer posts, or all influencers to follow specific people, rather than just broad topics. The all influencers tab is arranged by the highest number of followers. Business tycoon Richard Branson and the president of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, are among the top five influencers.
Gibbs says following influencers is important, but finding the right influencers is the key. For example, Mitt Romney is listed as an influencer, but he’s probably not going to help you with your business. To find people that could have an impact on your business, Gibbs suggests checking the comment section of business articles. Find people who are in your industry that are leaving comments and engaging with others and follow them.
“Following an industry leader is great for insight, but the relationship will probably end there,” she explained. “If you follow someone that’s engaging, you’re more likely to interact with that person and who knows what kind of business possibilities can arise.”
Tip #3: Get involved
If you have some exciting industry news, Gibbs encourages small business owners to write an article about it, post it to their website and then post it to their LinkedIn page.
“Don’t just read stuff from other industry leaders, be one yourself,” she said. When someone clicks on your LinkedIn post, you’ll drive traffic back to your website. “It’s just another way to get exposure.”
As the new channel feature grows, LinkedIn says it will continue to add topics. Right now, users can choose from 33 business categories and hundreds of influencers. It’s a good way to fill your online Rolodex, which might not turn into immediate dollar signs, but Gibbs says knowing the right people can help your business grow in the future.
Will you, or do you follow LinkedIn channels? Have any favorites of your own so far? Share away in the comments.
This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.