LinkedIn for Leads: How to Use LinkedIn to Generate More Business
'If I were forced to choose between using only one social networking site for my business, from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites, I would choose LinkedIn, hands down. I still love these other social networking sites, but LinkedIn is by far the most powerful for your business and career' - Lewis Howes
LinkedIn is a powerful social media platform. It can be used to generate networks and leads. It's a free way of marketing your business online in an organic way. With much of the sway shifting from free to paid promotion on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn still offers many ways to connect to others in your field for free.
However, though the site itself is still free to use, you do have to invest in it - with your time.
Building up a great profile for you, your employees and your business as a whole, does take time, but it is well worth it in terms of the links you'll get, the networks all over the world that you can connect to, and the scope for promoting yourself as a thought leader.
Remember that LinkedIn is for professionals and so it demands professional conduct at all times. Things that are considered 'unprofessional' might include:
- Being over-familiar - on LinkedIn it is best to address people in a friendly but formal way, unless you know them well personally
- Blatant advertising - pushing your business down people's throats, spamming connections, etc - any form of the 'hard sell' is a definite no-no on the LinkedIn network. People generally react well to helpful advice, thought-provoking articles and discussions, all of which present you as an expert in your field without blatantly promoting your products and services. Promotion is not banned altogether: it's just the way you choose to do it that will mark you out as professional or unprofessional
So how can you make sure you're getting the most out of your personal and company LinkedIn profiles?
Here are our ten tips to get you started!
- Every Employee Should have a Profile - It's great to have a company profile but remember LinkedIn is all about people - about making connections and giving each other advice and guidance, sharing ideas and expertise. Encourage all of your employees to create their own profile and to all link to each other and to your company page. It's good to have links to your website and blogs and also to the company Facebook page and Twitter profile. Your employees can include their current role and also their past experience, to show themselves as rounded professionals. It's good to tell your employees that having their own profile is good for their own career as well as for your business. Having a 100% complete profile looks great - it shows that you're thorough and meticulous. With LinkedIn profiles showing up in the top 5 of any Google search for a person's full name, it's well worth getting it right!
- Links are What LinkedIn is all About! - It's easy to optimise your presence on LinkedIn and spread this to other platforms. Placing strategic links on your LinkedIn profile can drive valuable traffic to your website and blogs in greater volumes. LinkedIn allows you and your employees to create links from your profile that can take browsers straight to your company website and blog. And vice versa, you can create links from your company website and blog that take your visitors straight to your LinkedIn profile. This will give them an impression of you as a bona fide professional. They will be able to view your connections, read endorsements and the recommendations of others, and see your full employment and educational history all in one place. This is a great way of social-proofing yourself! Social proof is a very powerful force in the world of business - think how more likely you are to buy a product on Amazon when you've read a positive review of it - it's the same with people and businesses. Seeing someone else recommend you and vouch for you makes visitors to your LinkedIn profile more likely to engage with you and ultimately do business with you. Social proof is an objective view of you that strangers are more apt to take on board
- Harness the Power of Keywords - You will know, from our article on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), that keywords are an important ingredient for getting your business and its products and services found in search engines. Keywords match your potential customers' search queries to your website, your blog or your social media platforms. So making sure you have included some of these keywords in your LinkedIn profile can mean those searching for general terms that relate to your niche field will find you easily. With so many LinkedIn profiles online, using keywords is a great way to get yours to stand out. You can read our article, Free Yourself from SEO Bad Habits for more information and practical guidance about avoiding keyword stuffing (which is frowned upon by leaders in the field and also by search engines, who may send you hurtling down the page rankings if they catch you out!)
- Connect with a Wider Audience - It might be tempting to just stick with who you already know and not accept invitations from those you don't know, but this could be limiting your chances of connecting to a wider network. Remember, business is no longer just local - and social networking helps you to connect with a worldwide audience. Look at your existing connections and see who they're connected to. Add invites in a professional and friendly way - personalising the message and saying why you would like to connect with them
- Build Your Reputation - By posting links to articles that are on your blog or website, you can start to build your reputation as an expert in your field. By posting regularly both on your profile space and in targeted groups, you can start to influence people in a positive way, helping them with practical guidance, feedback and new ideas. It's best to be positive about others in your posts as people will react to you more positively this way
- Make Your Profile Interesting - Even though LinkedIn is a strictly professional platform, there's nothing to say you can't use it to show your personality a little bit. While it's not appropriate to post things about your personal life or family on there, people certainly want to get a clear picture of who you are. Having a professional image of yourself with an open smile is a good way of starting this implicit dialogue, and make you seem more approachable to people who could potentially connect with and follow you. There's nothing wrong with a bit of humour as long as it's in good taste. Make what you say about yourself compelling - how about telling a story / showing a scenario that gives people an impression of who you are and how you view life? You could even add a short video of you addressing people directly!
- Recommend Others - This is a classic case of 'sharing the love' - giving away means you get some back. Increasing the social proof on someone else's profile can actually generate some good vibes for you. If you have recommended you it shows good will. They may in turn recommend you at a later date
- Join Groups - It's great to join some groups in your niche so that as well as gaining knowledge from others, you can share your own knowledge and expertise. Posting relevant articles in your groups can help others and in turn they may start to look to you in the future when they need a product or service you're offering. Generally, the more you put in to the LinkedIn community, the more you get out
- Connect with Twitter - You can use Twitter to drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile, by posting out links to articles or comments you've posted via Twitter
- Make Use of Company Page Features - You can add links, videos, articles on your profile, as well as sharing information about your products and services - but remember to keep it professional and err on the side of caution - if something has the potential to come across as blatant advertising, rather than as something that is genuinely useful, consider how you pitch it to your audience
Here at Fresher & Prosper, we wish you well with all your LinkedIn endeavours! If you have any comments to make about how you're getting on with setting up your profile, or would like some further help with any of the points we've raised, visit our Ask an Expert page!