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The Simplified Skippy on LinkedIn for Small Business Owners

Use LinkedIn as a giant rolodex (contact database). You already know that a successful and profitable business is based on WHO you know more than what you know. LinkedIn makes this process infinitely more efficient.

Don’t be afraid of the competition — that horse has left the barn a long time ago. Embrace this platform’s ability to save you hours in travel, stupid phone conversations and back and forth emails.

LinkedIn is IDEAL for business owners because it allows you to connect and build relationships on a higher level so that you can move your company forward.

How to Leverage LinkedIn for your Small Business

Although it is increasingly touted as a necessary tool for networking and business growth, there are many business owners and entrepreneurs who still don’t know how to use LinkedIn. When considering the fact that there are currently more than 107 million users in the United States and that two users join every second, though, it’s clear that learning LinkedIn and how to leverage it for the benefit of your business is simply not an option – it’s a necessity.

If you’ve been looking to connect with prospects online, it’s crucial that you learn how to use LinkedIn to create relationships that will end up benefiting your business:

Be sure to have a thorough profile!

This can’t be overstressed. If you’re a local, brick-and-mortar business, make sure your profile plainly states your location and the services you offer. Making sure you have a photo attached to your account is key as well – profiles with photos get an exponentially greater amount of traffic.

There are several key components to your profile; Your Name, The Summary and Your Experience and Accomplishments.

Put these tips from the experts to use in your LinkedIn Profile:

  • On MarketingProfs.com, William Aruda, Personal Branding Expert focuses on building a great summary. One critical tip is to focus on a single ideal customer and use that as your context.
  • Kristin Dorsey,?Marketing & Growth @ Clarity Recruitment recommends telling a compelling story in your Linkedin Summary.
  • Pamela Skilling, Co-Founder of Big Interview, gives the hiring managers perspective on profiles, but I think it applies to small business owners as well. In addition to other great tips, she says to focus on the headline as the most valuable piece of real estate. Make it descriptive, keyword rich and memorable.

Be focused on the right keywords.

Don’t keyword stuff your profile, of course, but make sure you know the keywords your prospects will be searching for and include them in your profile information. This way you’ve improved your chances of showing up in search results.

Hot tips for getting found on LinkedIn via Keywords:

Search for your leads.

Having a premium account will go a long way toward helping you build a list of quality leads, because it allows you to perform more in-depth searches. You can make this initial search as broad or specific as you wish, then cull it down later by, for instance, searching only for people working with certain companies, in certain positions, in certain locations, etc.

Tips for finding new customers on LinkedIn

  • Have a clearly defined offer — “We help companies save money on online marketing” is not clear enough.
  • Try these 15 strategies to find customers — I wouldn’t recommend doing them all at once. Choose one, perfect your system and move on to another

Form connections.

But don’t be slimy about it. Work on forming meaningful connections which are predicated upon you delivering value to your prospective customer. So, for instance, pointing them to an article you think they’d find helpful (bonus points if you wrote the article yourself of course!) is a good start. Don’t go for the kill right away – let the person know that you see them as an individual you’d like to form a relationship with, not just a dollar sign.

WARNING:

DO NOT BLAST people. I get dozens of stupid, vapid emails from people saying that we are in the same group and they have some wonderful service offer to share. This will only get you deleted. Connect, engage in a real, human conversation (ask a question, provide something of value, get to know the person first) move from LinkedIn to email to a phone meeting and so on.

Post updates regularly.

Make sure you’re out there at least once a day, sharing quality content that you know your connections would get real benefit from. Just ensuring that their eyes hit your business’s name at least once a day keeps you front-of-mind – and of course that’s where you want to be.

Truly engage with people ask advice, reach out to experts to contribute to your content.

Join groups and provide value within them.

The importance of LinkedIn groups cannot be overstated. Knowing how to use LinkedIn groups as a way to connect with prospects prior to ever requesting a connection or a single dollar. Doing a little research into the groups your prospects can be found participating in is a great first step. Joining those groups and offering real advice (or pointing members toward helpful resources) will boost your credibility and visibility. Just avoid spam like your life depended on it. You might think that sending out blasts to group members promoting your latest special is the greatest bit of information you could possibly share, but the world has grown more savvy and spammy self-promotion can be smelled a mile away.

Send messages to other group members.

Another one of the helpful aspects of LinkedIn groups is the fact that members can send private messages to each other without being connected. Of course with great power comes great responsibility, so it’s important to use this feature wisely. Don’t go blasting unsuspecting people with messages asking them to connect with you the way a kid would send “Do you like me, yes or no” notes in grade school. This is a surefire way to have what could have been a prospect head straight for the hills and away from your business. Instead, think of ways to say “Hey, I noticed you asked a question about this, thought this piece of information would be helpful – let me know if I can help in any other way”. This is how relationships are built and how trust grows.

Learning how to use LinkedIn to build a business can appear daunting, especially when there are so many other platforms out there to learn about. But a little time invested in figuring it all out and adding plenty of value to your prospects’ lives will go a long way toward building a thriving business.