LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource for networking in the professional world, however much of the best practice advice for using it is meant specifically for large corporate brands. This causes small business owners to make crucial mistakes on LinkedIn when they follow engagement methods meant for large enterprises with more resources and far greater name recognition. Luckily, I have some expert guidance on how YOU can best leverage LinkedIn like a small business pro!
1. Don’t market. Studies show you can get the maximum marketing effect by concentrating your efforts where people spend more of their time such as Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is also easier to reach a lot of people as well as your own blog. LinkedIn is a good place to post infrequent updates or features, but make sure your primary use is to build your professional relationships rather than your audience.
2. Get the most out of business trips. Use LinkedIn to schedule meetings before traveling for business. By taking advantage of the built-in geographic-search option you can find the best connections nearby and filter results by industry, job title and business size to match your intended demographic.
3. Don’t help the competition. It’s always nice to connect to colleagues in your market, but do so with caution on LinkedIn. When you accept connection requests from competitors you open up your entire network to them. Beware of giving your competitors access to your network.
4. Know when to use privacy. LinkedIn’s Premium users have the luxury of being able to review those who view their page so it’s dangerously easy to find yourself overexposed when doing some competition reconnaissance work. That’s even riskier for a small business than it is for larger one. So if you are going to snoop, be sure to log out, open a private window or incognito window (Chrome browser) to cover your tracks. On the other hand, keep an eye on who views your profile. You could learn a thing or two about their business.
5. Focus on your business. While large organizations are easily recognized on LinkedIn small firms have a harder time achieving notoriety. Your personal profile should contain a short bio about your business that lists the names of some of your best clients. Thread your brand story and bio together by running off ways in which your company can help your customers and citing specific successes.
6. Hire the best employees possible. As a small business you may need to work a bit harder to connect to the best pool of candidates. If you know of some people who’d be ideal hires, use their LinkedIn profile to craft an ideal job description. For example, what kind of previous experience do your ideal hires have? Search for qualifying prospects and assemble a great job post to pitch those candidates.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. LinkedIn exists for professionals to connect to other professionals. There are plenty of people using the tool who can offer you some insights and wisdom. Joining groups on LinkedIn can put a wide range of expertise at your fingertips. Engage groups by asking and answering questions. Check the group status often to see if there are any questions you can answer.
LinkedIn can be a convenient tool, but challenging to master. Use this guidance to help you optimize your experience and get the most bang for your buck!
Co-written by Matthew Gilbert
(Source: Wall Street Journal)