If you’re a business professional, you should be on LinkedIn. It’s as simple as that.
A fantastic networking resource, you can grow your professional network considerably, meeting new individuals who could be of benefit to your career and maintaining relationships with past colleagues.
However, LinkedIn can also be a great resource to help your small business grow. The problem is, it’s often misunderstood how to do this effectively and there are three key points that need to be followed as an absolute bare minimum to see the best results.
1. Get engaged with industry-relevant groups…
Updating your profile to reflect your small business’s activities and including links to all of your websites, blogs and social media accounts – as well as developing the amount of connections you have – is without doubt great for your business, but any information around your small business is generally only seen by your contacts (as they’re the ones who have easy access to your profile).
But with over 175 million users on LinkedIn, if you’re not doing any other activity, you’re limiting your reach considerably.
By researching industry relevant groups and becoming involved with them, you can speak to not only peers in your industry, but your target audience. You can put your expert thoughts and views in front of what could easily be thousands of people on a regular basis, fast making you a thought-leader in your industry.
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And when you talk about topics that are of interest to your target audience and get involved in discussions in a helpful way, people start to look out for what you’ve got to say, which means you can develop a loyal following – perfect for when you have a new product or service you want to promote.
2. …but don’t forget to setup your own group
Whilst there’s no doubt getting involved with already established groups is a fantastic way to ensure your small business benefits from your LinkedIn activity, you mustn’t forget the potential of having your own LinkedIn group.
How you use your own LinkedIn group will vary from organisation to organisation and industry to industry, but the most basic principle is to offer value to the group’s members. If this means just publishing your latest blog posts, that’s fine – as long as they incite discussion and offer value to your target audience. However, it could mean starting completely new discussions around topics that your audience are going to want to hear about and comment on. Or it could be a combination of both.
3. 10 employees involved is better than just one
If your small business has a number of employees, ensure they’re all on LinkedIn. Make sure their profiles are all updated to reflect their position within your business and most importantly, give them time to use their account regularly, integrating with established groups and developing your business’s.
It’s a simple equation and it’s an obvious one, but it’s often overlooked – the more people you have involved on LinkedIn talking about your small business, the bigger audience you’re going to reach. One person making a dozen comments in various discussions every day is 60 comments in a five day working week. If you’ve got 10 employees making a dozen comments a day, however, that’s 600 comments a week – or if you think of it in another way, 600 instances of positive brand awareness.
Using LinkedIn to be of benefit to your small business is – just like any social media network – all about engaging with your target audience. The simple fact is, your customers are likely to already be using LinkedIn and it’s just a matter of ensuring the content you deliver and the activity you make is of the utmost benefit to your target audience – only then will the content and activity be of benefit to your small business.