If you’re like most entrepreneurs or small business leaders, you’ve got questions about LinkedIn. Even as this network continues to grow, a lot of its features and uses remain a mystery to the people who are using it. How is it helpful? Who is it for? Can it benefit your brand?
Here are answers to some of the five questions we get most often about using LinkedIn.
Q: I Have a profile—why isn’t anything happening?
A: One of the most common issues businesses raise with LinkedIn is value. What can LinkedIn really offer? Why is it worthwhile to maintain a profile and/or be active in the community? And, for many users, after signing up and getting a profile, then what?
The answer is that with LinkedIn as with anything else, you get back what you put into the network. So in order to see the best connections and help from the site, complete your profile; give and get recommendations; link up with people you know; and then, be active. LinkedIn offers many ways to get involved, from LinkedIn Groups to LinkedIn Answers to job postings.
Q: Is LinkedIn only good for recruiters and job seekers?
A: It’s true that for companies doing recruiting, LinkedIn is a great place to search through candidates and gain information before ever having to place a call, and that for candidates it’s a good place for building connections and seeing job listings—but that’s not all LinkedIn offers.
For one thing, LinkedIn is valuable for building your personal brand: when someone Googles your name, your LinkedIn profile or page will show up early in search results. Also, it’s an easy way to network, with a wide range of potential clients and business associates just a few links away, waiting for you to reach out and ask for introductions. What’s more, with today’s society of more transient employees, where people change jobs multiple times in their career, LinkedIn draws a wide range of users, even those not immediately looking for job changes.
Q: How can I use LinkedIn to generate sales leads?
A: Many of us have heard that LinkedIn represents an invaluable resource for lead generation— a recent study by Hubspot of over 5,000 B2B and B2C businesses found it’s as much as 277% more effective at bringing in leads than Facebook and Twitter. So, how do you generate leads on LinkedIn? Turns out there are many ways to gather leads from this business network:
- Make Quality Connections: Putting time and effort into building your network will reap great rewards over time.
- Word-of-Mouth Referrals: Ask satisfied clients to write you recommendations for your LinkedIn profile, broadcasting your value to your and their networks.
- Answer Questions: Use the forums on LinkedIn to answer questions in your industry. This exposes you not only to the question askers but also to anyone who searches for similar info through LinkedIn’s advanced Answers search.
- Post Relevant Content & CTAs: If you find your connections respond well to blog posts or articles, keep posting them to draw interest. Likewise, look for ways to include calls-to-action in your updates.
Q: How can I connect with my target audience or promote my company?
A: Beyond connecting with people you already know, how do you find and network with people in your target audience? Consider LinkedIn Groups. Find groups related to your industry or specialization, and join the discussions. As a member, you will also be able to search through members lists for people you’d like to reach out to and then send them connection requests.
In terms of promoting your business, you can set up a company page, get listed in the service provider directory and, if desired, use LinkedIn Ads to advertise to targeted users.
Q: After I connect, what’s next?
A: Think of LinkedIn like any other networking event–building connections is only the first step. It’s good to come home with business cards after a trade show, but it’s more important The next step is using those connections to share content, leave comments, send private messages and, in whatever ways you can, engage with other users.
Guest Author – Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web designer specializing in B2B clients. She writes for diverse companies, from the makers of a cut resistant glove to specialists in all in one credit card processing.