Launched in May 2003, LinkedIn has revolutionized the way we network, allowing for each and every one of its 80 million users to create their own professional network of friends and colleagues.
And whilst this is LinkedIn’s most basic use, it has developed so extensively over the past seven years that it has become so much more than a place for you to link up with past and present colleagues, with many of the features being able to be utilized to develop your small business – and the following information explains exactly how.
Complete your profile
The very first thing you need to do when looking to utilize LinkedIn to help develop your small business is to ensure that your profile is completed fully.This doesn’t just mean uploading an up-to-date photo, filling in your current position and adding a brief summary – you need to be looking at completing your profile so that it shows all of your past employment history, including descriptions of what you did; a concise yet informative personal summary; full details of your education; all of the Additional Information section and arguably most importantly of all, the Personal Information and Contact Settings areas.
Leave and request recommendations
One of the fantastic features of LinkedIn is that every user can receive recommendations on their work from people who they are connected with, instantly giving them a fantastic piece of promotion that is proven to be from a third party and not enhanced – or even fabricated completely – by the people themselves.What you have to remember, however, is that not only should you be ensuring you leave recommendations where appropriate, a lot of users aren’t aware – or forget – that the recommendation feature is there.
Therefore, if you’ve carried out some work for someone who’s in your network and you haven’t received a recommendation for it, don’t be afraid to ask them – politely – if they would mind leaving a recommendation.
Get involved with groups
LinkedIn boasts a vast and varied number of groups that its users can join and discuss topics related to the group with other likeminded indivuduals.Whilst it may initially be thought that the groups are there purely for social reasons, they are in fact one of the best ways for you to become known in your industry.
By contributing regularly to groups that are within the same industry that you operate in, assuming that you provide quality information that is of use to people, it’s inevitable that over time you’ll come to be known as an expert in the field and the first person that people will think of when discussing certain topics, both on and away from LinkedIn.
Stream your business’s blog posts
A particularly useful yet underused part of LinkedIn is its applications.Like Apple’s iPhone apps, LinkedIn’s applications can be added to your profile page to enhance how it looks to readers and how they interact with you.
One of the best applications that you can utilize is the WordPress blog application, which streams your WordPress blog’s latest posts straight to your LinkedIn profile page.
Simple to setup (you just have to input your blog’s URL), you’ll be putting your blog posts in front of a potential audience of millions, without doing anything additional to what you would normally do.
Connect, connect, connect
The problem that a lot of people have with networking on LinkedIn is that they wait for people to contact them.Why sit back and wait for what could be months for past clients and colleagues to find you when you could do it yourself?
Allowing you to search by various criteria, most notably name and company, the one thing you have to remember is that the more people you can add to your profile who you’ve worked with, the more recommendations you can receive, resulting in the more people who are likely to see your profile via your networked clients and colleagues and the more professional your profile – and therefore your business – appears overall.
What’s more, if you can continually expand your network, you instantly increase the awareness of your brand, becoming known to audiences that you may not have previously targeted.
LinkedIn may seem like nothing more than a great online networking resource, but the truth is that with just a little research into what it can offer, it becomes obvious at just how beneficial its proper use can be to any small business.