Top Tips for Small Businesses to use LinkedIn by Tara Commerford

 

Overview of LinkedIn

As a small business owner, growing your business contacts and networking is central to your business success. However, traditional networking methods can be time consuming and expensive which is why small business owners are investing their time building their online brand presence on LinkedIn.

With more than 161 million members connected across 200 countries, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and has witnessed significant growth in Australia with more than 3 million members in Australia & New Zealand. Its mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Currently over 10 per cent of LinkedIn members in Australia are small business owners.

Many of these small businesses are using LinkedIn to build their professional brand, enhance their visibility online, grow their network, connect with like minded professionals, gain insights on industry trends and recruit highly skilled candidates.

As a small business owner, there are many ways you can use LinkedIn to your advantage. Here are some tips on how you can leverage LinkedIn:

  1. Raise your profile

If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, register and create your profile. Using your profile in the right way can be the gateway for all your potential customers, employees and industry partners to contact you. The more complete your profile, the more likely you will be found on LinkedIn or through search engines. If you have a company website, a blog or a Twitter account, you can link them to your profile which will help enhance your visibility and showcase your expertise in the industry. You can remind people of who you are by keeping your profile active with regular status updates

  1. Create a Company Page

LinkedIn Company Pages allows businesses of all sizes to better manage and improve the perception of their brands and products. Creating a company page on LinkedIn is free. They can provide an overview of their business and also list their products and services. Businesses can also seek recommendations from current and prospective customers for their products and services which helps generate word of mouth publicity. It also provides a rich source of analytics where businesses can gain insights into who is interested in your company/products, what they’re saying about you and which other companies they are following.

  1. Grow and monitor your network

Much of a small business’ success depends on who you know and who knows you. Connecting with other industry professionals can be difficult, especially when much of your time is spent building and maintaining your business. LinkedIn automatically recommends people you may know and you can leverage this feature to grow your contacts. You should also proactively scour through your contacts’ connections to see if there are any additional people that you might want to connect with. You can also actively promote your LinkedIn profile as your new business card. Create a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, so your potential customers and partners can connect to you. Search is one of the most popular functions on LinkedIn. Performing a ‘People Search’ will enable you to quickly find the right person at a company and determine who you know in common for a credible introduction.

  1. Connect via LinkedIn InMails

You can reach people outside your network via LinkedIn InMails. InMails are private messages that enable you to contact or be directly contacted by another LinkedIn user, while protecting the recipient’s privacy. LinkedIn InMails can be purchased individually or through an upgrade to a premium account.

  1. Get recommendations

When people view profiles, one of the top features that they look for is ‘Recommendations’. They add considerable value and enhance your professional credibility. If a potential customer has found your LinkedIn profile through a Google search, those recommendations could be the deciding factor between you and your competitor. You can solicit recommendations from your past and present customers and partners. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers.

  1. Engage with your audience

You can join a relevant Group to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer your business-specific questions. Joining groups which are related to your industry or other small business matters is also a great way to make new connections. Potential clients can find you through groups, as the group members have the ability to directly message each other, even if they aren’t directly connected. You can also use the ‘Answers’ feature to respond to  questions from connections in the Answers section of LinkedIn without self promotion, and ask contacts questions to get a feel for what customers and prospects want or think. People can vote for the answers they think are the best, and the week’s top experts are shown on the Answers homepage, giving you the chance to be an expert in your field.

  1. Recruit the right people

If you are looking to hire the best talent then you could use LinkedIn’s search tools to find people from a pool of passive candidates (currently employed) who might be best suited to your business’ key roles. You can also change your status to “hiring” and post the job listing to your LinkedIn groups to attract relevant talent.

  1. Gain professional insights

LinkedIn provides a great opportunity for you to gain professional insights. LinkedIn Signal makes it easy for you to make sense of the never-ending stream of status updates and news shared by others in the network.  Business owners can discover relevant information they are interested in through dynamic filters, searches and trending topics. LinkedIn Today (still in beta) is a new product that surfaces the top headlines and stories being shared the most often by LinkedIn’s trusted network of professionals.

 

  1. Improve productivity through LinkedIn mobile

You can also access LinkedIn on the move through iPhone, Android and BlackBerry apps enabling you to update your profile and search for others on LinkedIn to connect with your business acquaintances. LinkedIn recently launched an iPad App that delivers some exciting new features such as calendar sync which allows you to get an informative snapshot of all the people you will be meeting that day and everything you need to know about them. You can use the LinkedIn mobile application to pull up background details of the person you are meeting on-the-go, putting you in good stead for a great introduction and conversation points.

  1. Leverage applications

LinkedIn also enables you to download applications that allow you to enhance your productivity. LinkedIn SlideShare provides a platform for you to share your presentations with your network. TripIt lets your connections know the places you will be travelling to, so if of your connections are free, they can catch up with you. Events allows you to see what events your entire professional network is attending and find events recommended to you based on your industry and job function.

 

Tara Commerford;

Head of Communications ANZ & SE Asia

LinkedIn

Tara Commerford is Head of Communications for LinkedIn ANZ & Southeast Asia and has been with the company since May 2010. Her focus is on driving brand awareness and engagement strategies for LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network.

About Author

  • http://www.lifestyleassistance.com.au Kaye Hodgkiss

    Thanks for the tips, I didn’t know you could have a company page. Nice one!