More than 10 million Canadians are on LinkedIn.1 The “Facebook for professionals and business people” is more popular than ever (in fact, a new person signs up every two seconds2). If your work involves personal relationships with people who have intellectual skills (such as managers, professionals, specialized experts), this social network is a must.
There are many uses for LinkedIn: networking, contacting potential clients, searching for new jobs, positioning yourself as a subject-matter expert, SEO, promoting your blog content, updating expertise and so on. Ready to start? Here are five tips for making the most of your small business on LinkedIn.
1. Participate, but don’t self-promote
Join discussion groups that are relevant to your work and participate and share useful information. Ask and answer questions. Mention products and services in passing, but don’t focus on them. If you make your products and services your main topic, you’ll be the only one who finds it interesting – and your contacts won’t listen to you.
2. Build relationships
LinkedIn provides a generic text to invite someone to be a contact. Don’t use it! Instead, write a personal note and explain why being a LinkedIn contact would be mutually beneficial. Once contact is established, ask questions about the person’s work, company and challenges. Being truly interested helps build mutual trust, which is a good foundation for doing business.
3. Think “content”
As a social network, LinkedIn is a content gold mine. And unlike Facebook, which is overrun with pictures of cats, LinkedIn members only publish “serious” content. People publish their thoughts or share interesting material they’ve read in groups that are limited to specific topics. Not only will you learn a lot about these topics, but you’ll also learn who’s interested in them, which increases networking possibilities. And by publishing your own content, you can position yourself as an expert in the eyes of others.
4. Create a complete profile
Potential clients consult your personal profile or your company page on LinkedIn to compare you with your competitors. In this regard, quality is paramount. Detail your experience, obtain references and add any information that will convince them. If necessary, hire a professional writer.
5. Pay attention to who visits your profile
LinkedIn allows you to see certain people who’ve visited your profile. Ignore job seekers or those trying to sell something; instead, pay particular attention to the others, since several of them are potentially interested in your products and services.
Is a premium LinkedIn account necessary? It does offer some benefits, such as more complete information on who visited your profile, better search results and the possibility of directly contacting someone outside your network, but the free version is probably all you need to start.
All of these tips are interrelated. If your potential clients are on LinkedIn, they’ll read what you write in discussion groups, and then they’ll view your profile and company page. That will give them a good first impression. By taking the initiative to contact them, you’ll begin a business relationship with them.