There are all kinds of social networks popping up on the world wide web – everything from Facebook to Foursquare – you name it. But, if you have a strong desire to network with professionals in your field, LinkedIn is the social network for you. But take note, it’s not as easy as it looks. So, we’ve put together the top ten tips for networking with business professionals through LinkedIn. Small business owners have access to the most powerful business networking enterprise available. And best of all, it’s free!
Top ten tips for using LinkedIn to Build your Small Business:
1. Complete your profile
Setup and complete a profile. If you use your profile efficiently, you will right-off-the-bat provide a gateway for potential clients, employees and industry partners to contact you. Be very thorough and provide a lot of information in your LinkedIn profile. The more details that you include in your profile, the easier it will be for people to find your profile (and you) through search engines. Make sure your summary is complete and include a professional photo of yourself to increase your trustability factor. Add your special skills to your profile to highlight those skills and make your area of expertise front-and-center.
2. Promote your LinkedIn profile
Add a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, post it on your business cards, and add a link to your profile on your web site. Download the free icon set at Yootheme.com and add the professionally designed social icons to your web pages so visitors can easily visit your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
3. Develop a company page
Build visibility for your business by developing a company profile in LinkedIn. Members regularly use company profiles to view information about a company that they are interested in. A company profile should include a description, number of employees and the industry it operates in. Develop your company profile with specifics including your company’s logo, your physical location, and even include a feed from your company blog and your Twitter account.
4. Develop your network
The power of LinkedIn’s networking lies in its ability to automatically recommend people you might know based on your details and existing contacts. Import the address book from your e-mail client to discover which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn. Regularly search your existing contacts for people you might want to connect with. By inviting new contacts into your network, you engage those people and demonstrate to potential customers that you are online and available, which in-turn builds trust and credibility. Among the many advantages of maintaining your Linkedin network is building trust and gaining a competitive edge. If you take the time to follow your competitors’ online strategies, you may find that many of them are most likely not taking the time to capture customers’ attention in the same way.
5. Ping your connections through LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn allows members to join 50 groups. Join groups with a high membership. This gives you the opportunity to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer business-specific questions. Joining groups that are related to your industry or other small business matters is also a great way to make new connections.
6. Obtain recommendations
Trust on the Internet is crucial to a business. Given the number of options web users have, you’re actually asking site visitors to do you a favor when they visit your web site. And they’re more likely to perform a favor for you if you establish trust on your web site. So, add trust-building elements to your web site – elements that not only encourage the performance of an action, but make the site visitor comfortable in the performance of that action. One way to build trust is to build a list of LinkedIn recommendations.
Recommendations are the most looked for feature when viewing a new profile and are a great way to secure new clients. Recommendations enhance your professional credibility and create a great impression on people reading your profile. Ensure you request LinkedIn recommendations from satisfied customers willing to provide testimonials. Positive stories from happy customers are the best source for new leads.
7. Search for and mobilize the right people
By using LinkedIn’s search tools, you can find potential employees to whom your business is best suited. LinkedIn provides a search tool that is very powerful and customizable. You can search, for example, for Texas web designers with whom you want to connect with your web hosting firm. Save your search and LinkedIn will email you the list of candidates from the search results on a regular basis. Once your receive the email of prospective connections, send each one a customized, personal email explaining the reasons why you would like to connect and how your relationship can be beneficial to both of you.
8. Increase productivity through LinkedIn mobile
With LinkedIn’s mobile app and your smart phone, you can access the network while on the go. Connect with and establish new business acquaintances at conventions. With this mobile app, you can research contacts and find background information before an upcoming meeting. This type of information displays your professionalism by better preparing you for an important event.
9. Integrate your Twitter feeds into LinkedIn
To sync your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, begin by checking the Twitter box under the Network Updates box on the homepage and follow a few simple steps. Access your LinkedIn profile settings, and click “manage your Twitter settings”. By linking your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, you are able to add a new dimension to your professional conversations.
10. Share your blog articles with your LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn recently added a new feature that allows members to share and discuss news with LinkedIn groups. I can not emphasize enough the power of this tool.
Build your small business with LinkedIn
LinkedIn profiles can increase page rank in Google, which leads to more visitors to your company web site. LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high Page Rank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you.
Choose a quality web hosting provider. Build a professionally designed web site. Then, add a blog to your web site and build your article base by regularly adding quality, original articles each week. If you can’t write, hire a copy writer to populate your web site and blog with new content a few times a week. You will quickly discover the cost versus benefits equation tips in your favor. Or write a few lines on what’s going on in your industry – an upcoming seminar, symposium or trade show. In other words, keep your site visitors up to date with the latest news.
This establishes your credibility and the fact that you’re plugged in to the latest news.