Launching over a decade ago (on the 5th of May 2003 to be precise) LinkedIn has seen plenty of other social media sites fall in and out of favour with the masses. Despite the changing landscape of the Internet, LinkedIn has survived.
Still seen as THE business professional’s social network of choice, it can provide big benefits to your small business.
● In the UK alone, LinkedIn has 11 million members.
● There are over three million company profiles on the site worldwide.
Just from looking at those numbers, it is plain to see that there is massive potential for networking and business growth via LinkedIn.
The range of businesses using the site is very broad, from American Express to Mashable, and there’s no telling what roads and opportunities it may provide if you put in the effort.
The Benefits of Being on LinkedIn for your Small Business
As well as being able to create a LinkedIn profile for yourself, you can also create a company profile (including all of your contact details, staff, what you offer etc) at no extra charge.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple – you’ll probably get the most benefit out of LinkedIn if you’re a b2b (business to business) organisation, rather than b2c (business to consumer), as it’s unlikely people will be scouring LinkedIn to find somewhere to go for lunch or buy a new laptop.
However, if you put the time and effort in, LinkedIn can help you in other ways. For example, it can help you to increase your page rank on search engines like Google and Bing, because they index content from LinkedIn. If you craft your profile with the right keywords, in the right way, then your business will rank highly when those keywords are searched for. This is a relatively simple way to do a bit of simple SEO (search engine optimisation) work.
1: One Piece of Content Can Be Twice as Effective
Written content such as your company’s services, aims etc doesn’t need to be entirely new for your LinkedIn company page. Much of this information can be pulled from your corporate website or other social profiles. However…
Tone is all important
It pays to be friendly on Twitter and Facebook, where you’re probably interacting with customers, but LinkedIn is primarily a professional networking site. It’s pretty unlikely that potential business partners, headhunters or jobseekers want to hear about your ‘massif night out last night!!!!!’.
2: Groups with a Broad Knowledge Base
As well as the opportunity to expand your professional network, LinkedIn groups offer a wealth of knowledge, which you can draw from and add to.
It pays to get involved but there’s plenty of value in listening
Groups offer open discussions about techniques, queries, ideas, and so forth. It really does pay for you to join these groups for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, you’ll have access to business people with all levels of experience. You can learn from them, ask questions, and become a better businessperson. The second is that it’s another good way of networking – if others see you adding insightful points to a discussion, i.e. not ‘BUY MY STUFF!’, they will remember you. This may end up leading to some useful future connections and/or opportunities.
Steps to Take
1: Connect Your Profiles
While it would be nice to be able to hand craft a different message for every social networking platform, it’s probably not a good use of time. If you’re, say, writing about a blog post or article you’ve been working on, you can use programs like TweetDeck to post it once but have it appear on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
Ensure that all of your profiles and corporate website correlate. It reflects badly on the business if you claim to offer a service that’s no longer available on an outdate social networking profile.
2: Start Conversations
Don’t just add hundreds of people willy nilly with no explanation of who you are or why you’re adding them. You’ll either be denied by them all or end up creating reams of useless contacts that will stop you seeing the real gems and opportunities when they arise. If you want to connect with someone you don’t know, it’s good form to send them a message explaining who you are, why you’d like to speak to them or what you can offer them.
3: Look for Businesses That You Know
When you’re getting started on LinkedIn, and looking to ditch that dreaded ‘0 connections’ tag, it’s better to take baby steps. For example, trying to add the CEO of Google on your first day probably isn’t the best of ideas. Start off by looking for people you know and local businesses you already have a relationship with. There’s a good chance that their business circles will bleed into yours, rather than having to do all of the hard work yourself.
4: Stay up to Date
If you realise that someone you know hasn’t been active for a while, take a look at their LinkedIn profile and see what they are up to. It could be that they have a new position or job. Make sure to congratulate them and, where appropriate, consider whether or not they might be able to send some work your way! Equally, make sure to keep your own profile accurate – you don’t want to miss out on opportunities or job offers because someone hasn’t realised that you’re on the market!
Despite what people think, social networking is not a short-term endeavour. In order to gain trust, you have to spend a long time adding value and building relationships. If you don’t have the time (which can be as little as twenty minutes a day or as much as a couple of hours) to do that, it may be worth delaying it until you do!
Check out our other blog posts for information on growing your business as well as some tips and tricks you may not even have thought of! If you can’t find the perfect accountant for your small business on LinkedIn, we can help with that too.