Not long ago we published a blog post with essential tips on how to use LinkedIn for your small business. Since then, Facebook and Twitter continued to rise and flourish under the social media spotlight. But it doesn’t mean that LinkedIn had not gone through its own evolution, because it did. Just check out the stream of activity on the official LinkedIn blog. Or take numbers as proof: today, 80 million professionals – and counting – have signed up to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities through the social networking site.
After all these new LinkedIn features and developments, we thought it would be a great time for an update. Here’s a list of tips on LinkedIn for small business – tips that may not have occurred to you just yet, but which will certainly give your online presence a huge boost.
Upload that picture. Okay, we did mention this in that previous article – “brand your profile” – but judging from some of the entries in LinkedIn’s vast member directory, it seems that a lot of people are still choosing not to use a picture on their LinkedIn profiles. Some perhaps do not want to reveal their ethnicities, while some simply do not want to be judged professionally on the basis of their looks. There could be hundreds of reasons. But we’ll stand by our original advice: use a picture. It’s the 21st century: if you come across someone who’s going to treat you with such discrimination, you probably wouldn’t want to work with that someone anyway.
Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Need to build yourself up with positive reviews and testimonials from other professionals? Make it easy on yourself by E-mailing your contacts and preparing the recommendation text/letter yourself.
Join groups. Expand your reach on LinkedIn by joining groups that are relevant to your business. LinkedIn has a search feature for doing just that. Of course, be as selective and discerning as you can. As they say, it’s not about the quantity of your networks; it’s about the quality.
Optimize your profile. That way, both the professionals and the search engines will find you. Hyperlink the URLs in your profile, insert links with anchor text, add a few select keywords to describe what you do, etc. Sounds like SEO 101, sure, but these methods are fundamental and foundational. You can’t go wrong with ‘em.
Use third-party apps. Yes, with LinkedIn, you can leverage the power of other social media and networking tools. The Slideshare app, for example, lets you showcase your presentations, documents, PDFs, marketing and sales presentations, etc. to a LinkedIn audience. The TripIt app, meanwhile, lets others in on your business travel plans, so they can connect with you, say, at your next industry event or next out-of-town seminar.
Update your profile. Every time you log-in, write down something that would describe what your current status and objectives are. It can be something like a “tweet” – a simple one-line update – but keep it professional. Like “looking to hire a new social media manager” or “planning my next sales seminar and looking for sponsors”.
Promote your LinkedIn profile. You may already have Twitter and Facebook widgets on your website. It won’t hurt to add a LinkedIn one. Crosslink and mix it up to leverage each and every social media channel Promote your LinkedIn profile on your blog, too, if you can, as well as on your E-mail signature, your business card, your letterhead, and other promotional and publicity literature.
Post your LinkedIn events – or join others’ events. Just like what you would do in real-life – if there was no such thing as the Internet. Organizing and joining events are a great way to make new connections. But more than that, it shows you’re proactive, ready to engage, ready to connect, and passionate about meeting the people who can have a positive involvement in your business. Have a company event? Let your LinkedIn connections know about it – even if it’s just a webinar.
Create saved searches. Not a lot of users take advantage of LinkedIn’s search prowess. Fewer save their searches. We don’t know why, either, but creating saved searches (you get 3 at the basic level) lets you just sit back, relax, and wait for LinkedIn’s automatically generated weekly E-mails, containing new search results, new potential clients, partners, industries, and connections.