Saturday, August 31st, 2013
You know social media is the wave of the future.
You don’t know, however, just how well you can use that social media for your own business.
Is it really necessary for a software design firm to “tweet”? Or should business comprised of engineers be “tumbling?”
But there is one form of social media that every business can and should be using.
As you surely know, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that utilizes social media technology for businesses and business professionals to connect, share resources and network.
If you haven’t already put the social media site to use, there are many excellent ways to utilize LinkedIn for your business – and many more ways to utilize it for your personal career goals as well.
1. Attract Business Clients
One of the simplest aspects of LinkedIn is the number of professionals on the site.
You may not find millions of individuals interested in the latest shoe designs as you would on Facebook or Pinterest.
But you will find dedicated business professionals looking for the services you and your company provide.
It’s just a matter of reaching them.
2. Identify New Market Opportunities
Sometimes in strategy meetings you just draw a blank.
Eliminate blank stares by seeing the market in action.
LinkedIn puts the market potentials directly in front of you with highly searchable features as well.
3. Generate New Leads
Through LinkedIn tools you can see not only what you’re looking for, but what others are looking for as well including similarities between individuals.
Seek out opportunities and compile them.
Presto! You have endless leads to work with, especially if you collect them in a group through the software.
4. Collaborate with Industry Professionals
Small business professionals often have to perform many roles.
But doing a lot doesn’t mean doing a lot well.
It’s nice to have others out there who understand your situation and can share advice and experiences.
The groups on LinkedIn provide exactly this sort of industry support.
5. Shorten Sale Cycles
If you’re having trouble closing sales, it may be that your clients need just a bit more convincing.
What could be more convincing than a series of referrals and praise through a public website like LinkedIn?
Boost your sales and establish credibility with clients easily with reviews, testimonials and a steady online presence.
6. Improve Client Lifecycles
If you find clients come and go, you may not be doing enough to keep them around.
Networking possibilities explode with LinkedIn making it easier to stay in touch with clients and to touch base from time to time to keep that relationship alive.
7. Accelerate Linking Strategies
LinkedIn doesn’t just provide collections of companies and individuals.
It also allows content.
Create content that is timely and effective for your industry and share it with others.
Those others click, copy, share and post that content boosting your linking strategy for SEO and marketing purposes.
8. Improve Social Strategies
If your company is struggling to get started with social strategies and to build an effective online social presence, LinkedIn is a solid place to start.
Not only is it a purely professional environment, it is also a format where you can build your company up slowly among its peers.
9. Build Online Communities
Your business may have an excellent brick and mortar foundation, but online you’re still seeking a good fit.
With LinkedIn, you can build communities called groups in regard to different areas of your business.
As others connect in those groups, you’ll be building a deep presence in specific niches and areas of business.
10. Create Special Offers
LinkedIn groups and the content functions make it possible to create special offers – and not necessarily sales or coupons.
Special networking options may be one of your effective marketing weapons or perhaps special treatment.
And then you just can’t beat a special sale or discount of some kind if you can work it in.
11. Recruit Candidates
Perhaps one of the most obvious uses of LinkedIn is the possibility that you can connect not just with customers, but with future employees as well.
Keep tabs on other professionals in the industry.
Find qualified individuals.
And when the time is right put your HR department into action luring the best of the bunch in your direction.
12. Identify New Fields for Expansion
If you’re great at doing a few things, you may not have even considering trying those same ideas in a new field.
But watching others on LinkedIn discuss possibilities and diverse fields may inspire you to try something new.
You may be struck with possibility after possibility of where to expand next – all thanks to others simply chatting about the possibilities.
13. Secure Freelance Talent
Even if you’re not thinking about hiring, you may have a need to outsource material from time to time.
LinkedIn is a treasure trove of talented, professional freelancers.
A quick search will bring up hundreds of qualified individuals, and from there you can view resumes, samples and reviews and endorsements as well.
14. Targeted Job Listings
Since LinkedIn is a professional community, it includes one of the most targeted job boards online.
You won’t find minimum wage work here, but you will find the sort of positions you used to have to pay headhunters to manage for you.
Write your job listing with clever keywords to reach your target audience and you’ll not be disappointed.
15. Solicit Referrals
LinkedIn profiles include the ability to include a review or an endorsement.
These reviews are an excellent public way to showcase your client feedback.
Show off. Enjoy it.
And you mind just land a few new clients already impressed with the work you’ve done.
16. Share Ideas and Seek Feedback
LinkedIn isn’t just about taking from the community.
There is plenty to give back as well.
Join communities and groups and be an active member.
Enjoy the conversation, share ideas or feedback and then seek a bit of feedback yourself.
Who knows, it might help your business grow.
17. Seek Out Industry Best Practices
You may advertise that you’re the “best in the business”, but are you?
It’s often hard to tell, but LinkedIn can give you a closer look at least.
Dig around in your industry to see what you can find that’s new, improved and perhaps even better than what you’re doing.
18. Highly Targeted Content Marketing
LinkedIn includes many paid advertising options as well which are nice for businesses still getting settled in the online world.
If your business serves a specific market, content marketing through LinkedIn allows you to specifically target that demographic.
Pay a bit. Set up some content. Enjoy profits.
19. Create Timely Sponsorships
You can do even less work and still reap terrific rewards from LinkedIn advertising.
Another paid advertising option with LinkedIn is to simply sponsor other things.
Sponsor articles, posts, forums and groups.
Your brand will be in the best place at the best time.
20. Advance Company Credentials
How many people know about your company?
How globally active are you?
If you’re looking to expand your markets you can do it, and best of all, do it publicly.
Building your client base and expanding publicly will push your company forward visibly as well.
21. Continue Branding Efforts
You may have started a true branding imitative through your brick and mortar presence or perhaps a website.
But LinkedIn is a way to accelerate these branding efforts.
Use the groups, the recommendations, the endorsements and other public badges to take your branding to a new level.
22. Try Alternative Advertising Methods
If you’ve gone with somewhat traditional advertising models, you may have noticed a diminishing return on investment.
Or perhaps you’re just ready for something new and different in your advertising department.
There are ample opportunities for free marketing efforts through LinkedIn and many more ways to boost your creative advertising through the site as well.
23. Identify a Diverse Client Base
You may excel at selling your product to a particular crowd.
But chances are there are others out there who would put your products or services to good use.
With the huge variety of potential clients on a global site like LinkedIn, the possibilities for diversity are limitless.
24. Do a Bit of Co-Branding
If you work hand-in-hand with another company or two, LinkedIn provides opportunities for cobranding.
Sponsor something together.
Join groups together.
Or even consider reviewing previous services on the company page.
25. Keep an Eye on Employees
It doesn’t always pay to be checking up on employees in a private environment, but LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.
Be sure that employees have well developed profiles and that they are well connected.
Periodically check in to be sure that the profiles are staying updated and that your employees are performing professionally and within the legal bounds of your company.
26. Boost Employee Credentials Publicly
Encourage client feedback on employee performance.
Encourage workers to seek out endorsements and skill tests.
All of these things including connections and skills will improve your employee publicly and then your company by default.
27. Embrace Public Magnanimity
The marketplace can use a bit of kindness.
And it doesn’t hurt that a good deed tends to create another.
Honestly praise and review companies and freelancers you’ve worked with and expect to see positive feedback from the market and from those you work with in return.
28. Improve Your CEO Clout
Perhaps one of the best things about LinkedIn is that all of your employees are visible – including the very top ones.
Allow your CEO to use his professional clout to close a sticky sale.
Or perhaps issue a strong statement about the market.
Or pen an article that others can use and share.
That professional weight can go pretty far online.
29. Establish a Doorway to the Market
LinkedIn uses levels of connections to view contacts.
The whole world is not necessaries connected here – just one or two levels of connections.
Of course if you have a social media manager or someone dedicated to reaching out on LinkedIn, all of your other employees – including your sales staff – can see those individuals, too.
30. Double Down with Twitter
Why stop at just LinkedIn?
If you’ve struggled for regular updates with Twitter, now you can make the process even simpler.
Check the box to post to Twitter when you post to LinkedIn and you’ll be killing two professional birds with one stone.
31. Find Opening Material
If you hate cold sales calls, don’t go in cold.
Use LinkedIn to find interesting material or a common framework that you can discuss and work with.
Being prepared with conversation ahead of time also saves you from embarrassing pauses or conversations about the local football team’s lack of success.
32. Boost Response Rates with Communication
There are rules about how you can use email to promote.
It makes it tricky and spam boxes are definitely the enemy to marketing emails.
Using the message features on LinkedIn, you’re not only avoiding a spam box for your not-spam messages, you’re reaching the specific target you way.
If you’re nervous about starting on LinkedIn, don’t be.
There are so many ways to use the social media platform to boost your business and improve sales, marketing and even your human resources.
All it takes is a bit of time to set up that business profile and then you’re off and running!