Social Media Networking in Business
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. Founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking.
While the LinkedIn 225 million (2013) may pale in comparison with the Facebook 1.6 billion active users (2013), its achievement is quite remarkable when one considers that there are only around 360 million white-collar professional people in the entire world (at least according to the latest International Department of Labour numbers). So over 40% of the world’s professionals are already on LinkedIn. And with the social network now signing up a new member every second of every hour of every day, it shouldn’t be too long before the other 90% of the world’s business professionals eventually wind up in the LinkedIn universe.
The LinkedIn mantra that “relationships matter” has become the central dogma of our social media age. LinkedIn takes the six degrees of separation principles and applies it to your business contacts. We are one step away from each person we know and therefore two steps away from each person they know, so the theory suggests we are at most six steps away from any other person on the planet. LinkedIn allows us to maintain a list of what it terms “connections”, a connection is someone we trust and, in theory, have had a business relationship with. By automatically applying the six degrees of separation principles we can see if we have a connection through any of our contacts to whoever we are meeting/calling/researching.
LinkedIn has become more dynamic, easier to search and frankly, better populated and, if you are a Tweeter user, you can update your LinkedIn status automatically (keeping you visible).
Where to start and getting the best out of LinkedIn
- If you are not already a member. Sign up, you have nothing to lose and an online persona to build, Google will find you and your profile.
- Spend just 10 minutes a week checking out what’s new.
- Import your address book from Outlook etc. After all these are your contacts already.
- Look through the connections of your peers and don’t be afraid to add anyone there is a legitimate reason to add – worst case they ignore you.
- Take care not to accept people who you have no connection with, they often just want to grab your contacts or just build artificially high connections.
- Participate in the Q&A function to share your expertise (it’s like free advertising, when done properly).
- If you use Twitter, consider connecting it to the LinkedIn updates.
- Use the filter, search and advanced search options to help find companies and people you know or want to know.
- Build and add yourself a profile – make your LinkedIn profile work for you, promote your projects, opportunities and business – use words that Google will like and that relate to your business.
- Search for groups full of like-minded professionals. There are many active groups, if there isn’t one that’s relevant, create one.
- Read the LinkedIn email updates, it will show who has connected to whom, and who has updated their details.
- Never go in for the hard sell – assume everyone is a professional and offer to help rather than sell.
- Use your LinkedIn URL on slides if you are presenting – e.g. http://uk.linkedin.com/in/thompoole
- Remember your competitors use LinkedIn as well.
- Use LinkedIn Answers as an easy way to ask for advice.
Here are 30 ways to use LinkedIn for business more effectively.
- Fill out your profile completely to earn trust.
- Use widgets to integrate other tools, such as importing your blog entries or Twitter stream into your profile.
- Do market research and gain knowledge with Polls.
- Share survey and poll results with your contacts.
- Ask and answer questions in “Questions and Answers”: show expertise without a hint of self-promotion.
- Publish your LinkedIn Vanity URL on all your marketing collateral, including business cards, email signature, email newsletters, websites and brochures, so prospects learn more about you.
- Grow your network by joining industry and alumni groups related to your business.
- Update your status examples of recent work.
- Link your status updates with your other social media accounts.
- Use the search feature to find people by company, industry and city.
- Start and manage a group or fan page for your product, brand or business.
- Research your prospects before meeting or contacting them.
- Share useful articles and resources that will be of interest to customers and prospects.
- Don’t turn off your contacts: avoid hard-sell tactics.
- Write honest and valuable recommendations for your contacts.
- Request LinkedIn recommendation from happy customers willing to provide testimonials.
- Post your presentations on your profile using a presentation application.
- Check connections’ locations before travelling so you can meet with those in the city where you’re heading.
- Ask your first-level contacts for introductions to their first-level contacts.
- Interact with LinkedIn on a regular basis to reach those who may not see you on other social media sites.
- Set up to receive LinkedIn messages in your inbox so you can respond right away.
- Link to articles and content posted elsewhere.
- List your newsletter subscription information and archives.
- Find experts in your field and invite them as a guest blogger on your blog or speaker at your event.
- Import vCards and contacts from other applications to find more connections.
- Export your contacts into other applications.
- Buy a LinkedIn direct ad that only your target market will see.
- Post job listings to find qualified talent.
- Look for connections related to a job you want.
- Find vendors and contractors through connections.
With LinkedIn, the adage of ‘you get out what you put in’ is very true. The more you network and participate, the more exposure you will get. For help with your LinkedIn for Business marketing strategy contact Jack Marketing Solutions™ now.
Glossary: Blogging, LinkedIn, Marketing, Networking, Newsletter, Social Media, Testimonials, Trust, vCards