How Small Businesses can Leverage LinkedIn to Grow their Business
By Danielle Restivo | March 1, 2012
Linked In is often referred to as the go-to social network for business. It is known as a great source for finding jobs and networking with other business professionals online.
To learn how small companies can make the best use of Linked In CanadaOne went to the source. Here is what Daniel Restivo, the manager of corporate communiations at Linked In, had to say.
- Build a Company Page
Building a Company Page is an easy (and free!) way to establish your business’ presence on LinkedIn. It’s a centralized location where millions of LinkedIn members can go to stay in the loop on company news, products and services, business opportunities and job openings. Company Pages are also a great business intelligence tool. By following competitors and companies you admire, you can glean essential business inisghts. You can see who’s hiring, recent departures, or people with connections you might like to do business with.
- Drive Word of Mouth
Client referrals are one of the best ways a small business can grow their customer base. This is just as important online as offline. Increase your word of mouth referrals by asking your happy clients to write you a recommendation. These will appear on your Company Page, Profile and News Feed.
- Gain Insights
Visit LinkedIn daily to get valuable insights about your connections and their activities. Follow the top trending news each day on LinkedIn Today so you’re up-to-speed on industry news. Use LinkedIn Signal to search public status updates for topics or brands you’re interested in.
- Position yourself as a trusted expert
There are thousands of LinkedIn groups discussing everything under the sun. Be sure to review the discussions in the group first. This will help you determine whether the group is active and how you can add value to the discussion. Searching for groups by topic and industry gives small business owners the opportunity to specifically target and make the necessary connections. Proactively answering questions in your area of expertise can help build your reputation within the group.
- Raise Your Profile
Your LinkedIn Profile is one of the ways potential clients, employees and industry partners can find you. Get your profile to appear higher in search results on the Web for your name by customizing your LinkedIn Profile URL so it’s your first name and your last name together as one word (ex. Joe Smith). Also, make sure your LinkedIn Public Profile is visible to everyone. You can make both changes under your account settings.
- Update Your Status
Let your connections know what you’re up to and how your business is growing by updating your status regularly. Use status updates to announce new products, to post interesting articles, and even to get answers to business questions you’re pondering (like, “Does anyone know a great corporate realtor? I’m hunting for office space.”). Synch your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts so your updates get posted to both networks. Bottom line: Give people a reason to come back to your page and engage with you.
- Grow and Nurture Your Network
Connect to at least 50 people that you know and trust. It’s the magic number of connections to have on LinkedIn. When you connect to at least 50 employees, clients, business partners, friends, family members, etc., that’s when you start seeing more first-, second- and third-degree connections that can help you get in touch with people or companies that will help propel your business forward. Import your address book to find out which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn.
- Find Employees and Experts
Whether you want to hire a rock star salesperson or if you’re looking for an expert to help you solve a problem, LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search is an easy way to search by title, company name and even postal code to find exactly the person you’re looking for. Any member can search those facets for free by clicking the “Advanced” link in the top right hand corner of LinkedIn after they sign in.
- Get Info on the Go
Use LinkedIn’s Android, BlackBerry or iPhone apps to get info when you’re on the move. Are you running late to a meeting and want to get more information about someone before you arrive? Use the app to look up his profile. You can also use the apps to find connections you have in common with people before you see them in person at a conference.
- Take it offline
Relationships online are no different than traditional face-to-face relationships. They take time and effort to cultivate but they are invaluable. Once you’ve made a business connection on LinkedIn, follow up offline. This is the traditional part of the business process that remains an evergreen truth. Think of LinkedIn connections as a starting point, rather than an end.