How LinkedIn Can Help Your Business

Previously, we discussed how LinkedIn is not just for job seekers, it is a very powerful tool for anyone to use to advance their career and showcase their expertise.  I was caught off guard when I spoke to a friend who has a professional position of influence with a nonprofit and she was not on LinkedIn. How can she mentor others without doing what she teaches? Also, where else can someone learn how she feels about or sees the role of the nonprofit than promoting it on her LinkedIn account? Many of us are accustomed to looking someone up when we meet them or are looking at doing business with them. At my last event, I met two people who I exchanged business cards with, the one with the complete LinkedIn profile and picture was the one I connected with. I felt she was more serious and engaged in her work.

This time I want to discuss the power and benefits of LinkedIn for businesses and services. Any company, no matter what size or industry can find ways to benefit from what LinkedIn can offer them. I will focus on the free membership level so your only cost is time, whether you do it yourself or designate someone else, either an employee or contract it out.

The LinkedIn profile is a great place to either start making your web presence or to intensify it. There are over 2 million companies presently on LinkedIn. These could be your competition, your venders, your customers, or your potential customers.  With over 187 million members … well find me a newspaper with that kind of readership. And all of them seeking to reach out, that is why they are on there.

Now if I was doing the profile, I would first want to identify what my goal is: is it to increase sales; connect with customers, clients, or other companies; promote my brand, etc.? The good thing is it doesn’t have to be just one. Unlike an advertisement, I can use the profile to reach a diverse audience and not be so constrained by word limits. I can see using it as a platform to tell what I do and why I do it. You can personalize it some to give your background or story. Or keep it more formal. This is like art; there is no one way to do it. How do you see using it to connect with your specific target the best? You can try different profiles and then check your viewing numbers to see which one works the best. There is no limit to how often you are able to change or edit your profile.

LinkedIn allows you to promote products and services that your company provides. Think about the power of having a new product that you promote by sending it out as an update, linking it to a YouTube video that you have done, and then having them to get more information or order from your connected website. All without them dealing with a salesperson from their home at 2 in the morning.

But I would want to go further with the services. Tell me about your community initiatives or community involvement. Are you doing any within your industry such as promoting new safety methods or developing apprenticeships or helping the unemployed get job skills or participating in local events like 5K’s or mud-runs? (Mud-runs are just one of those activities that make me shake my head. They have to be a hoot to do, but I am not driving that car pool.)

Clients are becoming more eager to do business with companies who are community involved and this is a way to get that information out there in a proper manner. It will also help to keep you employees more motivated and positive.

One of the biggest pluses of LinkedIn has to be its ability to get you connected to your clients, actual or potential. This is done in a couple of ways: making direct connections, through groups, and by followers. Following, not stalking, is great because you don’t commit but you get to see the company’s updates and activities. These are people who I definitely want to try to engage or communicate with.

Groups are a great asset that that LinkedIn provides us. You can inform clients of products or services in a more trusting atmosphere. You can show your expertise and knowledge. And by properly answering questions, you have an audience that is open to you without questioning your motive; in other words you are informing, not selling. These can be groups that you either join, started yourself, or for your employees. What a great way to help your different departments stay in touch and allow open access to clients so they can get information that YOU want them to have.

When you look at someone’s LinkedIn profile, you are able to leave recommendations. Think about how powerful that is. Your targeted potential client looks you up and there are several recommendations (a positive vibe) and there is one form someone using the service or product they are considering (making them feel more confident that you ar ethe one) and then they see a recommendation form someone they know. (Ka-ching) Once again an organic, and free, way to make the public more comfortable with doing business with you.

LinkedIn is not for everyone. I know companies who are using Twitter or FaceBook to connect with the public. I do suggest you looking into one of these. Just having a website out there is not a big help if no one looks for it. Which of these tools do you think will hit your target client and present business in the way that you want it to be presented?

 

 

 

 

 

What Can LinkedIn Do for Me?

 

So many people think that LinkedIn is only for people who are unemployed or looking for a job. They couldn’t be more wrong. I speak to people all the time who have learned that they need to start looking for work and now they want to learn about LinkedIn. I won’t say they are too late, but it would have been better if they had already had a LinkedIn presence.

This is actually a sign of two misunderstandings. First, many people think that networking is only for the unemployed and salespeople: people who need something. We make a mistake when we think of networking as only being one way, a way to get something from others. Proper networking is a two way street, I try to help you and am helped in return. LinkedIn gives us many opportunities to connect and be involved with others. It is ironic that computers/technology is blamed for decreasing our contact with others, yet here is a way I can speak to people from other companies, states, and even countries. I have connected with people from states I have never been to and probably will never visit, and have discussed current issues with people I would have never dreamed of contacting.

LinkedIn has two avenues to assist others, and practice your expertise. Groups, I love these, allow you to connect with others in your field and discuss current topics. It amazes me that you can talk to people without regards to gender, race, geography, status, or anything. In one group we were discussing cold calling when you are talking to a company and I realized the responders were from India and Pakistan. That was an eye-opener of how small our world has become and how big the internet is.

LinkedIn has over a million groups and you can be a member of up to 50. I would suggest starting with some local groups, your alumni group(s), and some in your industry.  If the topics are not interesting, drop it and find a group that is.

Another avenue is questions/answers. I have not taken much advantage of this. You can click on answers and find questions in many categories.  This is a great way to do surveys, get opinions, best practices, and hard to get answers. One thing that LinkedIn does is allow you to rank the answers. By accumulating some best answers, this can be an asset since it shows on your profile.

Like in everything on the internet, check your sources. Anybody can post an answer. Some will be better than others. It is also suggested that you use the 80/20 rule when you interact in either groups or answers. Try to contribute four times what you take.

Another misunderstanding it not realizing how powerful LinkedIn is for promoting your abilities and expertise. LinkedIn has over 161 million subscribers, must of whom are professionals.  When I went to a recent conference, most of the people I met I looked up on LinkedIn.  By having a completed profile and picture I immediately felt better connected to them and trusted them more. An incomplete profile, no picture, or no presence made me doubt how involved they are in their profession.

LinkedIn is not just a job search engine; there are a multitude of them. What LinkedIn will allow you to do is to control what image you project out there. It also allows you to connect and build relationships with others. It also gives you the ability to learn and follow current trends that affects your field and industry.

A LinkedIn presence is not build overnight. Just like becoming part of a club or team, relationships take time to build. I plan to have an ongoing presence on Linkedin from now on. It will be there if something should happen to my current job. And it will allow me to reach out and help or talk to people I would not be able to reach without it.

If you have had an experience on LinkedIn please let me know by either leaving a comment or sending me a message. If you are not on LinkedIn and don’t plan to, I would like to hear why. LinkedIn isn’t for everyone but since it is free and easy to join, and seeing how you can present your skills and abilities, it may be a tool you shouldn’t overlook.

Why Do I Blog?

I started this blog because I wanted to get the news out about what is happening in Greenville and how people can use it to help them advance in their careers or businesses. I am very fortunate to work in a job where I am able to influence the choices people make and instruct them in how to either search for a job or begin a business. I meet new people or agencies that can use someone to help get their information out to others who can use them. Job seekers often do not know all the resources that are available to them because they were not interested when they were working. Now, however, they are in a crisis mode and feel they cannot get the information fast enough.

A blog allows me to connect people to others who may be in the same situation or in a position to help or give advice. It allows me to reach more people quicker than any other. A classroom has a seating limit, this website practically does not. It also allows me to keep my information up to date, unlike a book or magazine that is difficult to update.

I need your help. Please help me stay on track with my articles. If you hear of a new resource, please contact me. Hopefully I/we can be a source of information to help people in making their decisions about their careers or growing a business.

I plan to have future articles on local resources that may not be well known. I also plan to continue finding success stories that may instill a vision in you, and maybe new ideas that you can use. I look forward to an exciting 2013. May God bless you in the new year.

Here is an article about the difference in traditional media and blogging.