Right now, there are more than 414 million people who use LinkedIn throughout the world. Every second, two more people join LinkedIn. If you’re not on LI – or even if you have a LI account but don’t use it at least once a week – you are depriving yourself of networking and business opportunities, and it is ultimately harming your professional image.
Trust me when I say that if you’re a business owner, the social media platform you MUST be using is LinkedIn.
Why you must join LinkedIn
Basic Benefits to LinkedIn:
- It’s free Your friends are on it
- Potential employers and/or customers are on it
- Think of it like your living, breathing, public resume
- It’s incredibly easy (and encouraged) to network and meet new people It helps you get more information about your industry and industries of your connections
- It’s familiar because it works like Facebook in the sense that there is a news feed and you can make status posts with text, images and/or links You can list your vast array of skills and others can endorse those skills
- It provides an easy-to-access link to your professional experience
- You can subscribe to other professionals’ informational posts, as if you were following their blog You can connect with people in all industries and all types of businesses
- It’s your own public space for your professional self LI groups are MUCH better than FB groups or G+ communities
Also, in case you may have heard that LI is better used for B2B businesses, (although that may be true when running social media ads), LI is equally as significant of a social media platform for owners of all types of businesses. This is because LI allows you to connect with others in your industry, your customers/clients and your vendors. It creates a unique opportunity where “strangers” in relative industries are often glancing at your LI page and where LI encourages you to do the same.
**I think it’s important to stop and note: This is about creating an individual LI account for professional use to help market your business – this post is not about a business LI account. If you’re not sure what the difference is, this is a personal account and this is a business account.
If you think of Facebook like the after-party, LinkedIn is like the industry conference: It is where everyone meets, greets, converses, shares business tips and opinions, exchanges business cards and, sometimes, shows off family photos or pictures of a recent exotic vacation. It’s like FB’s PG, grown-up, tamed and polished sister.
So now that you understand what LI is and how important LI is, you have to create an account or begin to check your existing LI account daily (or every other day if you’re just too busy). There is a mobile app for your smart phone and tablet, so there is no excuse for not having the time to check LI. After you go on FB or Instagram, hop onto LI. Get into a habit and then it will become routine and the benefits from use will begin to appear, I promise.
Start utilizing LI by sharing industry-related or business/economy-based news stories and provide your own thoughts, opinions, concerns or questions in the status post. Like or comment on others’ posts. Share pictures and details about your business – those are guaranteed to get some engagement. Grow your connections (connections are the equivalent of Facebook’s “friends”) and expand your reach.
Once you get the hang of LI and you have a handful of connections, you will want to begin the process of marketing yourself as a leader in your industry. This is incredibly important for social media, because you can use your perceived power, influence and expertise to answer potential customers’ questions, therefore legitimizing yourself as a valuable resource and, simultaneously, promoting your business as a helpful business run by an influential expert.
Just like with the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” establish yourself on LI as the professional you desire to be, and you shall become it. (This is the secret of marketing!)
Here are different strategies you should take when transforming your LI persona into an industry leader:
1. Optimize Your Profile
First and foremost, you want a complete LI profile that clearly explains your skills and experience, but isn’t overly braggy or pretentious. You want complete and comprehensive information about prior/current professional responsibilities, regular tasks, programs mastered, volunteer work and other types of experience. Write a compelling yet brief summary about yourself and include as many skills (in the Skills section) as possible. Also, adding a professional picture to your profile makes you 14 times more likely to be found on LI.
2. Publish Posts
Not everyone has the ability to publish posts, so if you’re unsure if you have this functionality, go to your LI Home page. Below the image of yourself, you will see a vertical bar with options to “Share an update” and “Upload a photo.” To the direct right of that would be the orange “Publish a post” button. If you see it, congrats, you can publish a post. If you don’t see the feature, then keep on consistently using LI and possibly one day you will get the posting functionality. Think of the “Publish a post” option as having your own blog or news stream. You can publish blog posts, articles, other written documents you have created and even just blurbs about your professional thoughts, concerns or opinions about a particular timely topic. When appropriate, include embedded links to your company’s website. When you are finished creating the post and you are publishing it, you are allowed to choose up to 3 topics – this pertains to industries of people who will see this post, so choose the topics wisely. (You’ll also want to regularly post to your LI status about information relevant to your industry or its target audience, links to your website, blog posts you’ve written, documents you have created, company videos, important sell sheets, infographics, etc.)
3. Join Groups
There are more than 2 million groups on LI and most of them are awesome. Look up some keywords in the search bar and look for the “Groups” category on the left. You will want to join groups that pertain to your direct industry (so yes, this group will be filled with competitors, but that’s OK), your target audiences and your vendors. You will find everyone sharing information, collaborating and networking – a very healthy, beneficial environment. You can also start a group if a group you’re looking for with certain keywords doesn’t exist!
4. Expand Your Connections
Look at your connections and each will have a list of “people also viewed,” making it incredibly easy to connect with more people in whichever industry you want. The goal is to connect with people in your target audience segments to get them to read your posts and ultimately visit your website.
5. Confront Those Viewing Your Page
LI tells you who views your profile (in the notifications), so go ahead and spy right back! Look at those people’s profiles and ask them to connect if they are at least somewhat relevant to your industry (or just seem like a friendly person you want to connect with).
Congratulate people when appropriate (such as having a work anniversary or getting a new job), Like relevant or interesting posts, endorse people for skills and comment on posts in your home feed and group feeds. Engaging gets your name out there, but also portrays you as someone who is engaged in the industry (and someone who is super engaged is often assumed to be super knowledgeable about their industry). If someone asks questions that your business’s products/services help alleviate or that your company blog has provided an answer to, then share the link via comment.
7. Show Appreciation
Whether it is one of your employees, a vendor employee who regularly visits your business or a contractor who did temporary work for you, it is important for you to write recommendations for these people. Your professional opinion of their work is valuable and helps to establish credibility for them and you. In addition, they are likely to return the favor, which helps build your credibility.
Utilize LinkedIn as a key element of your business’s social media presence by formulating your own image as an expert in your field. Get more LI connections, more follows on your business LI page, more website traffic and more leads with this strategy. Keep in mind that consistency is a necessity, so if you don’t have the time or the social media know-how to continue this strategy, consider hiring a marketing agency to do the work for you.