Al right. You’re wife’s sister and your next door neighbor along with your 14 year old daughter have told you that you need to be using social media for your business. That was the easy part- getting free advice. The tough part is making social media work for your business without requiring you to spend hours poring over the web and making all kinds of connections which you have absolutely no idea how you are going to use.
The first of my primer below is aimed at largely helping small business owners leverage the power of LinkedIn for the purpose of promoting their business. You don’t need an expensive agency or a marketing professional to help you do it. All you need is a few hours every week to start with and as you gain confidence, you can move up using advanced paid features. But that’s another article for another time. So here are my 6 important things which you could do as a small business owner on LinkedIn.
- Create your personal LinkedIn Profile
Easy enough. But you would be surprised at the very large number of profiles on LinkedIn which are completely amateurish and silly looking. Create your personal profile on LinkedIn carefully. Remember it’s your business profile and users on LinkedIn will almost certainly visit your profile to know more about you. Your summary should succinctly tell your readers who you are. Detail out your professional experience. LinkedIn allows you to upload images, video and web links against your profile. Make use of it. You could upload your company credentials or showcase any video of yours. Take a look at my profile as a template of what you could possibly do n.linkedin.com/pub/rajesh-menon/4/469/223/ .
Once you have created your own profile, it’s time to connect with others on LinkedIn, which I have addressed a little later.
- Create a company page on LinkedIn
Another great facility from LinkedIn is the ability to create your own company page. It’s like being in a business directory without paying any fees! There are 2 important aspects to remember when creating your own company page. One, create a proper summary profile about your company and upload an image that describes your company effectively. Two create your company showcase page. You can create as many showcase pages as you have product lines or service lines. Each showcase page is like a company page and therefore make sure that you treat it accordingly. If you have a website where your product or service line is showcased, you can showcase the URL on your showcase page.
- LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn has one of the best online business communities in the world. As a LinkedIn member, you can join up to 50 groups. Join groups that are relevant to your business. Once you join a group, go back to your profile and showcase the key groups as part of your profile. Groups are an excellent way to build contacts and establish connections with people who are relevant to your business. Posting discussions and commenting on discussions are great ways to get yourself noticed. Avoid spamming completely. Your post discussions should be relevant to the group you have joined as should be your comments. One of the advantages of joining groups is that you can send private messages without any costs to other group members as well as see their full profile. You can use this to your advantage to send out invites to other group members to connect with you professionally. When you join a group, subscribe to the group weekly digest as opposed to a daily digest unless you want your inbox flooded with 50 mails every day. A weekly digest helps you keep connected to the group and know what’s been discussed. Also whenever you comment on a post that you like and feel relevant, check the box which allows you to be updated as and when anyone new comments on the same post.
- Connecting on LinkedIn
No social media is complete without having connections. You can print as many visiting cards as you can, but unless you get around handing them out, you’re not going to get known. Having a profile on LinkedIn is somewhat similar. You have to get out and build your contact. LinkedIn has a facility where you can send invites out to all your email contacts on Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or your outlook. Next, you can connect with members in your groups as well as other helpful connection invites that LinkedIn will frequently showcase to you. When someone connects to you, you can view his connections and use the powerful recommendation feature to get your contact to introduce you to his connection. You can also search for your alumni as well search for contacts by company they work with. The bottom line, the more connections you have, the greater will be your visibility across the network. You need to do the same for your company page and attract followers so that all updates about your company will automatically be seen by them. Invite your customers, your potential customers as well as your employees and suppliers to follow your company page.
Another good way to connect with people on LinkedIn is to turn your profile into an Open Link Profile. You will find it under your primary settings. Open Link Profile allows people to send you mails and connection requests without a problem. It’s a good way to quickly build a base of connections.
- Status Update on LinkedIn
Now that you have created a great profile and a great company page, it’s time to let the world know what you are doing. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn updates are 100% professional. Nobody wants to know if you’ve had a great meal at a fancy restaurant. But people would like to know if you’ve won a great order or hired someone new or done something that you can be proud off. Make sure you have a regular update on both your personal profile as well as on your company page. You can track the number of views you get on your update to tell you how good your connections valued it.
Want to improve the visibility of your update? You can add an image or give a URL link to your status update to get better noticeability. Not all updates need to be about you or your business. Your updates could also be general business information that you would like to share with your connections and followers. It’s all about building a brand image about yourself and your company through the frequent updates that you do.
LinkedIn also allows you to share your update on your other social media networks mainly Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way to save time and effort. Follow the fundamental rule when using sites like LinkedIn. Share. Share and Share. The wider you send out your updates, the wider your connections and ultimately your business promotion.
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