Boost your business with LinkedIn
One of the best ways to communicate with people online and bring your business to the attention of others is by joining LinkedIn. If you haven’t already come across LinkedIn, maybe the best way to describe it would be that it’s a sort of Facebook for business.
It’s actually free to register a personal account and there are three different types of premium business accounts which allow you greater privileges such as:
- Being able to contact people via direct message (in the free version you can only send a direct message to people in your network).
- The ability to look at a list of everybody who’s viewed your profile (in the free version you see a limited list of those who’ve checked you out).
- Being able to view the full profile of everybody registered on LinkedIn (with the free version, unless somebody is in your network you get a limited view of their profile).
- An expanded search option with filters (the free version does allow you to search and employ some filters).
Join a Group
The free version is actually quite a powerful tool and allows you to request connections with people and also to join LinkedIn groups. There are numerous groups on LinkedIn, many of which will allow you to join automatically and others that you request to join and wait for confirmation.
The purpose of the groups is that it allows a community of like-minded people with similar interests to communicate on forums. Once you’ve joined a group, sign up for email alerts when there is new activity within that group, this will ensure that you’re not missing out on the most up to date news and can take part in all of the discussions that are going on between members of the group.
Although you can actually join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, a more effective way of using Groups to the max is to focus on just a handful of groups where you could actually add value by joining the discussions, especially the most popular discussions as these are the ones that are gaining the most attention. Make sure that your input actually adds value to the discussion – this will make sure that you come to the attention of other group members.
Get involved and become a thought-leader in your field
Even more effective than joining in the discussions is to start some discussions of your own and provoke a debate. This will allow others within your group to identify you as a thought-leader in your area of expertise. Do a quick search to make sure that the topic has not already been discussed and then either ask a question or ask for help or make some sort of insightful statement and invite responses from other group members to provide their own views on the topic.
If you come across a great article online – publish a link to the article and write a piece about why you think it’s so important. These are all ways of encouraging discussion while bringing yourself to the attention of people who may in the future become clients or collaborators.
How to Unleash the Power of LinkedIn
A recent article by Max Clarke of Freshbusinessthinking.com reports that ‘more than half of professionals report a direct boost to their business as a result of their social media usage”, and that LinkedIn is the favourite tool for business to business networking.
How to Present a Professional Profile
When you join LinkedIn, it’s worth spending some time working on your Profile as this is the face that you are presenting to the business world. Even with the free version, there are lots of options for your “Profile” page:
- You can list your employment history, educational achievements, experience and publications.
- There is a section for Recommendations – where other users of LinkedIn that you’ve had direct contact with can provide a few sentences explaining why they would recommend you to others.
- You can post links to your websites – both professional and personal – which will encourage people to take a look at what it is that your business does.
- There is an Activity Stream which lists the activities of you and all of your connections (much like the Facebook Wall).
Publish your News
On your “Home” page, you can choose to import your blog – this is great if you use blogging as a business tool as I suggested earlier this year. The Activity Stream also shows on this home page – all the activity of your connections on LinkedIn and also tweets from those you follow on Twitter. This is a great tool for letting others know of any developments within your business – if you have a new product or service – blog it and tweet it and get the news on LinkedIn. This is also a really effective way of keeping up to date on what’s going on in your field and making sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities to expand your business.
Whether you use the free version (which is great for most people) or whether you opt to pay for the added advantages of one of the premium versions, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with your business contacts and clients, make valuable new connections that could grow your business and build a powerful online professional presence.
So get yourselves on LinkedIn and more importantly utilize and amazing free resource, and find a couple of hours a week to get involved in discussions and start your own!