28Nov, 2013

Tips for Small Business Owners to Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn_LogoAs a small business owner, growing your business contacts and networking is central to your business success. However, traditional networking methods can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why LinkedIn is perfect for your small business. LinkedIn’s professional network is a great place to build your professional brand, increase online visibility, grow your network, engage with like-minded individuals and recruit new employees from a pool of highly skilled candidates. Here are some tips on how LinkedIn can work for you. 

1. Raise your profile

Using your own profile the right way can be the gateway for potential clients, employees and industry partners to contact you. The more complete your profile, the easier it will be for people to find you through search engines. Make sure your summary is complete, and include a photo of yourself to increase your credibility. Customize your public profile URL and claim your piece of digital real estate. Add Skills to your profile to highlight your expertise and be found by others seeking those abilities.

You can remind people who you are by keeping your profile active with regular status updates. Pair your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and your LinkedIn Status Update can go out to both networks at the same time.  

2. Create a Company Page

Increase the visibility of your business by creating a Company Page. Company Pages give members an opportunity to view information about each company, such as its description, number of employees and the industry it operates in. Develop your Company Page with a logo, locations and feed from your company blog. Explore tools like Targeted Updates and Follower Insights to help you segment and engage your followers even better. 

3. Grow and monitor your network

Import your existing contact lists from your mail client to find out which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn. LinkedIn automatically recommends people you might know based on your details and existing contacts, and you should regularly scour through your existing contacts for people you might want to connect with. Offering to connect with everyone from customers to clients and vendors is a great idea because it shows your customers you are online, and gives you an edge on the competition who is probably not engaging customers in the same way.  

4. Get recommendations and endorsements

Recommendations are one of the best ways to secure new clients because this is the feature looked for most when viewing a new profile. They enhance your professional credibility and create a great impression on people reading your profile. Ensure you request LinkedIn recommendations from happy customers willing to provide testimonials. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. You can also receive endorsements on skills from your connections, giving you added credibility with that third-party stamp of approval.

5. Engage with your connections through LinkedIn Groups

Join a “small business” Group to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer your business-specific questions. Joining Groups which are related to your industry or other small business matters is also a great way to make new connections. Whether these connections are local or international, having a wide and diverse group will serve you well. Potential clients can find you through Groups, as the Group members have the ability to directly message each other, even if they aren’t directly connected.  

6. Recruit the right people

Use LinkedIn’s search tools to find people from a pool of passive candidates who might be best suited to your business’ key roles. Change your status to “hiring” and post the job listing to your LinkedIn Groups to attract relevant talent. Upgrading to a LinkedIn premium account will enable you to send direct messages to prospects with whom you are not connected.

LinkedIn Recruiter, a specialized product for companies, allows you to regularly hire from and engage with a network of passive candidates.  

7. Improve productivity through LinkedIn mobile

Access LinkedIn on the move through iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and BlackBerry apps enabling you to update your profile and search for others on LinkedIn to help recall and connect with business acquaintances at events and conferences. You can use the LinkedIn mobile application to pull up background details of the person you are meeting on-the-go, putting you in good stead for a great introduction and conversation points. 

8. Find exactly who you’re seeking with LinkedIn Skills and Advanced People Search

LinkedIn, with 238 million members and counting, is a gold mine when it comes to finding potential business partners, vendors, experts and employees. With dynamic search filters (such as years of experience, function and many more), you can narrow your search to just the profiles that are most relevant to you. You can also save your searches and set up search alerts to be the first one to get to the right people.

LinkedIn also tracks thousands of hot, up-and-coming professional skills on the LinkedIn Skills page. Search for a specific skill and discover world-class professionals who possess that expertise; related groups where you can interact with more professionals around a skill, a list of related skills and graph of their year-over-year growth as compared to the skill you searched.  

9. Save time and stay up-to-date on professional and industry news with LinkedIn Today

As a business owner, keeping your finger on the pulse of business will help you make smart business decisions. Instead of visiting multiple news sources each morning to stay ahead of news that will impact your day, LinkedIn Today saves you valuable time by efficiently aggregating the top articles being shared by your trusted connections and by professionals within the industries you care about, all in one place and across multiple sources. You can choose to “follow” specific industries, as well as select news sources like The Wall Street Journal or Mashable to see which stories are shared the most by news source and industry. 

10. Be inspired by thought leaders

If you’re looking for a little inspiration or want to find out more about successful business owners, why not follow one of the over 300 global thought leaders sharing their knowledge and professional insights on LinkedIn? Read what the likes of Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Guy Kawasaki are saying, like and comment directly on their posts, and even share these with your network. Check out topics of interest, trends, and issues that impact your professional community, which might help shape your management philosophy or enable you to come up with a breakthrough business idea.

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