If there’s one social media platform that perhaps doesn’t get the attention it deserves, it’s LinkedIn. Yes, most professionals and employees of Fortune 500 companies have put up their profiles and enjoy interacting with others within the site, but many people still remain skeptical about the value of LinkedIn. This is especially true when it comes to small business owners and direct sellers – most of them aren’t using LinkedIn to its fullest potential.
So why exactly should small business owners and direct sellers get linked? Let’s tackle some of the best ways they can use this platform for their business.
1. It helps give you a good impression
LinkedIn is the social networking site for businesses and professionals, so as a small business owner or direct seller, it really makes a good impression if you’re on LinkedIn, have a complete profile there, and are using the platform to network with people.
Let’s face it – Facebook, Twitter, and the like, are more about being social and connecting with friends and families. With LinkedIn, the discussions are far more informative and useful, and people really offer great content and are willing to go the extra mile to answer any questions you have with some really good information. With other social networking sites, you’re more likely to get silly and funny answers that don’t really offer value to the discussion.
Also, nowadays, more and more people are using LinkedIn to find services that they need – after all, who would you trust better: someone you found through Google Search or someone you’re connected to through LinkedIn, whom one of your close networks actually recommends? The latter, I believe, has a lot more going for her.
2. Answering questions can result in new clients
The question and answer feature in LinkedIn is really an excellent way to show people your knowledge and showcase your expertise. People who post questions here are really looking for good information, and if you’re able to provide it, you may actually land yourself a new client or customer. Or even if you don’t, you never know where your answer may be featured, which can result in increased traffic for your website or simply more people knowing about your brand.
3. Find the right people that can help your business move forward
As a direct seller or small business owner, you really can’t say that you’re an expert at everything. This is why sometimes you have to rely on outsourcing services that you need in order to move your business forward. Well, LinkedIn is an excellent platform to find these vendors. Through your network, you can ask for recommendations or referrals, and you’ll be surprised at how easily you can find the perfect candidate for the job or project you have in mind.
4. Promote events or meet ups
LinkedIn is a great way to promote an event you’re hosting or attending in your local community. Unlike other social networking sites where it will most likely just get lost in all the noise and clutter, with LinkedIn, you will be able to reach more likeminded people who are possibly as interested in the cause as you are. So it’s really a win-win situation. They’re also more likely to know other people and would be willing to share the news about your event with their network.
5. Connect with other small business owners and direct sellers
There’s a saying that goes, “keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.” Well, though you really shouldn’t consider other business owners and direct sellers as enemies… they’re more like healthy competitors whom you can actually connect with and possibly learn from. After all, no matter how successful your business is, you surely can’t claim to know everything yet, and it’s always good to see what others are doing in order to come up with fresh ideas for your own brand.
6. Get more traffic to your blog or website
By making sure you have a complete profile and are actively participating in LinkedIn discussions, groups, questions and answers, and sharing with your network, you can really get more traffic to your blog or website. And the best part is, the traffic is a lot richer since these are fellow professionals and business owners who may also be interested in the products or services you’re offering.
You may even be surprised to know that LinkedIn also offers you analytics that shows you how many page views you’re getting, clicks on any links you have, visitors to your services, and so much more. This is really an excellent tool to help you determine how you can improve your page and drive more traffic to your site.
As a small business owner or direct seller, you really shouldn’t ignore the value that LinkedIn can offer you. It may not be as popular as Facebook and Twitter in terms of number of users, but it is definitely the best social networking site for professionals and business owners in existence. So make sure that you’re using it well in order to get the most benefit from it.
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog and is also the CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat – a weekly twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.