LinkedIn has grown to be one of the most popular social media sites for business professionals to make connections and build their network. At times though, it can seem like only big businesses or recruiters use LinkedIn.
However, LinkedIn offers plenty of great tools for small and medium-sized businesses to connect with current customers and find new customers as well. In fact, LinkedIn can help your business look bigger, extend your marketing efforts and drive growth for your business.
LinkedIn and other social media tools allow you to get your messages out more quickly and easily than ever before. While most small businesses can’t compete with high-scale advertising campaigns that large companies produce, leveraging social media levels the playing field as the tools available are the same for all companies, big and small. Even niche small businesses have the potential to do well on social media, because you can find customers anywhere in the world interested in your unique offerings.
Here are five tips for growing your business on LinkedIn:
1. Maximize your personal profile and your company page
It all starts with a great looking and information-packed profile page. Add a professional photo to your personal profile and complete all the information about your past education and work experiences. Include key areas of responsibility and specific skills for each job. On your company page, include a header image and a detailed description of your business. Add sections for your products and services to give potential customers reasons to learn more about your business.
2. Ask for recommendations
Reach out to your connections and ask them to recommend you or your company’s products and services using LinkedIn’s recommendations tool. Having recommendations on your company page allows you to build great word of mouth advertising that can be viewed by anyone in the world. Recommendations become very powerful when viewed by someone who is connected to a person who has recommended you. They’ll trust the recommendation of someone they know and will be more likely to do business with your company.
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3. Share valuable information
Post updates to both your company page and your personal profile that provide your customers and connections with valuable information about your industry and insight into your business. For example, a small retail gift shop might post about their products that businesses can use as corporate gifts or employee recognition. A business association or chamber of commerce may post about recent legislative efforts that helped their members. Remember that posts that include links, photos or videos have about two times the engagement rate of those without.
4. Post frequently
Statistics from LinkedIn show that companies that post 20 times per month reach at least 60 percent of their audience. This works out to about once per business day. It’s OK to start slow at first; try one post per week. Then build up to several posts per week. All of your posts don’t have to be about your company, though. In fact, you should follow the 80/20 rule by posting or sharing four items from other sources for every one item that promotes your company. Your customers will appreciate the valuable information you’re providing them. Post about local news and events to show how your business is connected to the community. To further drive engagement with your followers, ask questions when posting links and other information. For example, if you post about a local business issue, ask your followers how it has affected their business. Or, ask your followers what their favorite thing is about living and working in your community. You’ll build a relationship with your followers and your connections that can help you turn them into customers – and turn current customers in to repeat customers.
5. Use your connections
Ask your connections for introductions to potential customers, and have your connections follow your company page so they will see your future posts. Make sure they know how to share your posts so they can help you spread your information to their networks – and your future customers. You may want to offer them an incentive such as a discount on their next purchase if they follow your company page. As your followers reply to and share your company’s posts on LinkedIn, you’ll gain more exposure to their networks and attract new followers.
Just like many things, LinkedIn is what you make of it. Make sure you create a communications plan that includes updating your company page and personal profile on LinkedIn. It’s important to stay disciplined and keep posting to let your connections and followers know you’re not only a great business, but you actively use LinkedIn to share information and connect with your customers.
Remember, the goal is to use LinkedIn to provide information your connections and customers find valuable so they will share it with their networks and extend the reach of your business. By using the free tools offered from LinkedIn, your small business can make more connections and drive growth for your business.
Download a copy of our guide, "4 Simple Steps to Growing Your Membership with LinkedIn" to see how your small business or association can take advantage of the networking tools offered by LinkedIn.
About the author
DJ Muller is president and founder of WebLink International, the creators of WebLink Connect™ the innovative, insightful and intuitive association management software with superior customer support. WebLink empowers hundreds of trade and professional associations and more than 500,000 small and medium businesses to help them acquire and retain more customers. Learn more at weblinkinternational.com.