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When your business is online, you will probably do most of your marketing online. You will use Facebook with a Page or maybe a group and you should definitely use Pinterest if you have online services or products. But there is another place you definitely should be and that’s LinkedIn. But how do you use LinkedIn for your online business?
What is LinkedIn?
It’s the serious one, the professional one, the grown-up social media network. It is the place that Fortune 500 bosses hang out to see who’s bought a new company and where investors meet up to chat about what they think their next big thing will be. There are no cute cat videos or holiday snaps here – that stuff is for your Facebook profile.
And while that might sound a little, well, boring, that’s okay because that’s the point. LinkedIn isn’t designed to be ‘fun’, but it can be a huge benefit to your online business. It is also quietly growing, adding more users all the time. In fact, there are now over 500 million members using the site and some 260 million users log on each month. 40% of users visit there every day and because these are professionals, that’s an interesting group of people.
Interesting, 61 million of the site’s users are classed as ‘senior level influencers’ and some 40 million are in ‘decision-making positions’ so if you want to find the people to talk to about your product or service, this is the place to go.
How do people use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn also works a bit differently to Facebook and the others. Firstly, you build your profile which is more like an online resume than a personal bio. It focuses on your work achievements and history rather than your family and friends. Then you start to make connections and there’s an etiquette to it that is different to gaining Facebook friends. Finally, you start using LinkedIn to showcase what you do but also to build an audience.
Your profile – the basics
Your profile is very important on LinkedIn because it is how people find you and needs to be optimised with the right keywords and phrases.
Start with your profile picture – this should be a headshot, a semi-serious photo that should be 400 x 400 pixels. You don’t have to dead serious and unsmiling but think resume photo more than a selfie at the local park. You can also choose a background picture or go to something like Canva to make a graphic that includes your company logo and what you do, similar to making a background image for a Facebook group.
Headline and summary
Your headline should be 120 characters or less and include keywords about what you do. I did a course on LinkedIn and the main tip was to say who you helped and how – so mine reads:
I help online businesses drive traffic to their website with Pinterest and great content to increase leads and sales
The summary goes into more details and lets you talk more about what you do. Always focus on what the benefits are to others and get those keywords in there naturally.
This is more about a highlight of where you have worked before so don’t worry about including every single job you have had. Look at jobs and experiences that are relevant for what you are doing now and include these. If you have a change of job or position, remember to update your profile.
There are lots of skills you can add but again go for the ones that are relevant for what you do. So while I may be a mean cross stitcher, I focus mine more around Pinterest, content writing and running an online business because that’s what my profile is about. Aim to add at least 5 or more.
Tips on maximising your profile
Getting your profile right is definitely one of the most important parts of using LinkedIn for your online business. Here are a few quick tips to help you when you start working on yours.
Turn off ‘sharing profile edits’ – this just means everything you do, there isn’t an automatic notification sent to your followers. Because they don’t need to know every time you change your picture or correct a spelling mistake!
Customise your URL – you can have a customised URL for your account which is usually your name, and this is what you should use. This makes it easier for people to find you when searching and looks more professional. Plus you can add it onto business cards.
Turn on ‘let recruiters know you’re open’ – if you are interested in jobs or work then you can turn on this feature of your profile and appear when recruiters search. If you are running an online business, this tells people looking for your services that you are available and means they are more likely to contact you about something they need.
Submit articles – Publisher is the LinkedIn publishing platform and it can be a good way to build credibility. And you can repurpose blog posts you have already written – just pop a note and a link at the bottom to show where they were first published.
Making connection requests
On LinkedIn, you don’t make friends, you make ‘connections’ and there’s definitely etiquette involved with it. Sure, you can just send a blank request to contact but for some people, this says that you are just sending out loads of requests and don’t care enough to personalise it.
Instead, with LinkedIn, you can include a message to the person. This is often a great place to mention where you found them, something you have in common, a shared connection or something else you have noticed. Maybe you are from the same town or both worked at a certain company. Some people won’t accept a connection request without personalisation and it only takes a moment to write a couple of lines.
You can make connections with anyone and LinkedIn ranked them as second or third level connections. Second, are those you are connected with, third are ones who have a shared connection but not directly connected. You can even approach people with no second or third connections – just remember to tell them why you are worth connecting with!
Tips on how to use it
So what do people do with LinkedIn if they aren’t actively seeking a job and are looking for clients or connections? Here are a few ideas.
Establish thought leadership
This is a fancy way of saying that you can show you know what you are talking about. Whether this is by publishing articles or simply sharing your own and curated content on your topic, you can become someone that your connections know in relation to a specific topic.
Update with company news
If you are your company, you can update the company news on your profile. And if your business has its own identity, you can create a business page, similar to on Facebook, and share these updates there. In fact, making sure it is updated and accurate is important as people researching your business will often refer to it.
Engage with others
You can also build your network by replying to other people’s content, engaging in conversation and answering questions. You can build a following that moves off the platform by interacting with people and building relationships.
Spy on the competition
In a nice way, you can scope out what the competition is doing and use it for inspiration by following them on LinkedIn. And because we aren’t hostile to competitors in the online world, you can comment and engage. Plus their audience then sees you…
Ask for recommendations
If you connect with people you have worked with or for, you can ask them to recommend you. This just means that they endorse you for a skill and tell the world they are happy to confirm you can do this thing. Just don’t make it the first thing you do with a new connection.
Using LinkedIn to find clients
If you are like me and are looking for clients rather than a job, it may seem like LinkedIn might not be ideal. But I know a lot of people who have had huge success on the platform and it is something I am working on.
Because LinkedIn has this resume style, you can instantly show people what you do without having to send a resume. This means you can also easily update information and allow people to see new achievements.
You can also connect with people in Groups which are a bit like Facebook Groups. Aim to join groups where your ideal client hangs out rather than people in your job as you want to connect with possible clients.
If someone views your profile, you can see this on LinkedIn then make a personalised connection request. With a great profile and a good intro, you can start building a relationship with them that might lead to work.
One of my goals for this year was to start using LinkedIn more. I regularly share content there, both my own and other people’s – SmarterQueue is brilliant for this. I also try to visit the platform every day, comment on posts and engage with people. My network is growing, and my next step is to start looking for Groups. I think we can all make use of the platform, we just need to adjust from the Facebook mindset!
If you have used LinkedIn and have tips, I would love to hear them, just pop them in the comments below!
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