LinkedIn might not be top of everyone's list when it comes to social media, but with more than 610 million users, it’s a hugely powerful tool.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which are mainly aimed at providing entertainment, LinkedIn (LI) is geared towards building professional networks.
If you’ve never used LinkedIn, it even feels different from other social media pages – while it’s still intuitive and you can ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘share’ content, it’s generally more serious and focused on work, business and current events.
If you’re after a platform to share cute cat and sneezing panda videos, this isn’t it. On the other hand, if you’re a B2B, are looking to grow your connections and pick up tips and advice from fellow professionals, then LI is the social network for you – here’s how you can make the most of it.
1. Create an effective profile or company page – like other social media platforms, you can create your own page. This can be for you as an individual, a company – or both.
To make your profile page really work, it’s best to think of it as an online CV – it’s there to showcase your skills and your experience. There are different sections to highlight qualifications and interests and you can also attach media – great if you’re a creative or have a company blog.
When you’ve set up your page, you can start making connections which you do by sending invitations to people (exactly like a friend request on Facebook). You only become an immediate connection (or ‘1st’ connection’) when that person accepts your invite. After they’ve done that, you’ll be able to see their contact details as well as message them directly via LI.
2. Join groups – you can choose to follow groups or #hashtags (similar to Instagram) related to your interests or business. Every time something gets posted in that group or using the #, it’ll show in your feed meaning you can keep up to date with new ideas within your field.
Being part of a group is also a great way to increase connections in your industry. You’ll also be able to direct message fellow members – which is something you wouldn’t normally be able to do unless they were an immediate connection in your network.
3. Share and create quality content – this applies to all social media if you’re using it for business but even more so for LinkedIn which is all about work. This means posting content that’s relevant and pertinent. But it doesn’t have to be directly related to your industry. It could be a news piece that you think has implications on business as a whole or on certain sectors or groups of people for instance: freelancers, HR directors or facilities managers.
Adding and sharing content sparks conversation and broadens your reach as other LI members re-post or reply to your comments. This can result in invitations to connect from others – in turn growing your own network.
Never be tempted to post blatant sales pitches, this rarely goes down well. LinkedIn call it the 80/20 rule where you aim to post 80% discussion content with 20% left for self-promotion. It goes without saying that any pitches you do post, should be more of a ‘here’s how I can help’ rather than a ‘buy, buy, buy’ message.
4. Become a ‘thought leader’ – don’t be put off by the corporate jargon, LI is the perfect place to set yourself up as an industry expert. Using LinkedIn’s publishing platform, you can post blog content and articles that discuss ideas and current events that are shaping your work.
Adding #hashtags will mean your content can be found by anyone looking for that specific topic and as a result, increase your reach.
5. Make quality connections – although it’s tempting to invite everyone you ever worked with and accept tonnes of random requests, don’t give in. While LI is all about building your network, there’s little point in growing it with contacts that you won’t learn from and can’t help you.
Before you accept an invite, check that the person has a complete profile page and has a good number of connections – just over a quarter (28%) of LI users have up to 300 connections[i]. Incomplete profiles or a handful of connections implies they don’t use the platform much. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with accepting requests from people you don’t know (that’s almost the whole point of LI), it’s important to sanity check their profile so you know they’re genuine.
If you want to send someone you don’t know an invitation to connect, you stand a greater chance of them accepting if you send a short message with your invite. Bear in mind your initial invite should make a point – for example, why you want to connect. You’ll need to be brief as you get a restricted number of characters in this instance.
If the other person accepts your invite, follow it up with a message or email (you’ll be able to see details as soon as they accept).
6. Invest in LinkedIn Premium – LinkedIn offers a free and paid-for service. Depending on what you do and how important LinkedIn becomes as a platform for business, you may decide to invest in LinkedIn’s Premium service.
You can choose from a range of subscriptions depending on whether you’re using the service as an individual or business.
There are several benefits to becoming a fully paid up member. For example, you’ll be able to direct message or ‘InMail’ people that aren’t your connections which means you don’t need to wait for someone to accept your invite before you have the ability to contact them. You’ll also be able to search for as many people as you like – the free version has limits (although these are pretty generous).
In reality, LI Premium is best for heavy users, such as if you’re a recruiter or want to seriously step up a job search. LinkedIn does offer free trials of their Premium service so if you’re not sure, it’s worth taking it up and seeing where it leads to.
7. Advertising – LinkedIn also offer a separate advertising service which you can pay for. The programme is self-service but there are step-by-step guides to building your campaign which can appear as ‘sponsored’ content, InMail, or ‘text ads’ – whichever you choose.
The advantage of LI advertising is that it can be really targeted using filters like location, industry, job role and even age and gender. Producing campaigns for such specific audiences means you stand a greater chance of converting them into clients compared to sending out a generic message.
Reap the rewards
To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to use it on a regular basis – ideally every day. The more you use it, the more likely you are to share, post and feel compelled to create content. All this helps boost your presence and make people aware of who you are and what you do.
Of course, when you do run your own business, time is precious and honing your social media profile is probably one thing you really don’t have time for. If that’s the case but you want to explore new ways of getting your message out there, contact us at Grow My Small Business to see how we can help.