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Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

LinkedIn

If you’ve signed up to LinkedIn and wondering what it can do for your business, then keep reading. LinkedIn is like Facebook and Twitter but much more powerful, it’s super relevant for growing your business, and less time consuming. Of course, you actually need to have a system for using it properly or otherwise it will be of little use to you.

Here’s an example of how one successful user is exploiting LinkedIn:

  • When ready to sell a new product or find partners for a new project he goes to LinkedIn
  • Does some research
  • Finds out who he needs to know in order to get some momentum going
  • Checks to see who they are connected with
  • Looks for a path of connections and works on getting introductions
  • Then makes a few offers to get deal(s)

The most common scenario, however, is that most people create a LinkedIn account and then never bother coming back again. Which doesn’t benefit them at all. So what follows is a very helpful list of things to do and things not to do to accelerate your success with LinkedIn for your business.

How to use LinkedIn for Your Business

1. Use the advanced search function
Using advanced search you can find specific people, industries, professions, businesses, specific job titles, company names, schools, zip codes and more. For instance let’s say you were looking for people who have done project management work for IBM. Search “IBM” and “project management” and you will find results for people inside and outside of your network. Using the word “and” will provide even more specific results. Finally you can search ‘shared connections’ and this gives you a path of how to reach these people which is important if you want to get an introduction. Also, you can save your search results for use later on (you are able to save up to 3 searches).

2. Join Groups
This is a great tool for building a network in a specific area and finding business partners. However, don’t join too many groups because you can spread yourself too thin. It’s better to focus on 2 or 3 that are likely to present access to future customers.

Just a warning with joining groups: be extremely careful when entering group discussions not to blatantly promote your ‘wares’ because it can come off as spam (and you can be banned for doing it). Always keep your interactions low key. In-group discussions make amply sure that you don’t give sales pitches. A much more effective approach is to REALLY know what you are talking about and position yourself as an expert, and then help others out through conversations.

3. List What You Do In Your Profile
You want to be able to be found by people who are interested in what you do. So make sure you list as many relevant keywords as possible that describe what you do. Here’s a tip – use the free Google keyword tool and just type in a list of keywords that describe what you do. Click the ‘go’ button and it will find a bunch of other related search phrases to your industry. Select the relevant ones with high traffic.

When describing what you do in your profile make sure you don’t come-off as if you are bragging. A better way is to write a low key but informative description about what you do, and then get social proof for your services by getting reviews from your customers and colleagues. Ask them to post their reviews on your profile. This approach carries a huge amount of weight and beats hyping yourself up any day.

Also, make sure to highlight the problems that you solve and the benefits that you bring to businesses. Try NOT to talk about features or products. It’s much better to talk about the results and benefits that you deliver.

4. Link to Your Facebook and Twitter Profiles
This way anytime that you make an update in those profiles, your LinkedIn profile will also update

5. Interact With Other Members
This is often the most overlooked part of social networking, and it’s the power of these interactions that you are doing that will really payoff. Ask questions, get involved in discussions, give opinions, and answer questions. If you are really interested in a particular conversation and you want to stay on top it, then you can subscribe to the RSS feed for that conversation. I’ve found Google reader or notify.me to be extremely useful tools for following blogs, forums, and conversations on the internet.

6. Build Buzz Around Your Interactions
Once you have answered a question or taken part in an interesting conversation, then share this with your network automatically. Here’s how: after you answer a question, you will see a button on the far right of the screen that says “share this”. Also, you can share the answer on Delicious bookmarking service. Furthermore, you can add a link back to your own website or blog where you have written an article that answers a particular question for that person.

7. Research What Your Contacts Are Interested In Before Approaching
Read profile pages of people that you would like to work with. Find out what they’re reading using this Reading List application by Amazon and where they are traveling using this handy travel application

8. Find Out Important Events
There are bound to be tons of important events that affect your industry that you may not be aware of. Using this application you will find upcoming important events easily.

9. Find Out What Others are Saying About You and Your Business
LinkedIn has a great tool called Company Buzz that can help you do just that.

10. Generate Interaction on Your Homepage
Use this Polls Application to get feedback, learn people’s thoughts on a particular topic, and do some basic market research. Your polls can reach millions of LinkedIn users and it really is a cheap and effective way to do some marketing.

11. Don’t Invite People That You Don’t Know Into Your Network
This comes off as spam and annoys people if you do it too often. If you get complaints then you will make it much harder to invite people to network with you in the future. For instance, you end up being required to have their email address before you can invite them.

by Wynne Pirini