Sep 18, 2013 • Jessica Jones
Some of the social media that we’ve discussed so far in our series on inbound marketing is excellent for reaching and interacting with the public. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all useful venues for delivering content to your audience and extending your reach. But what if you’re looking for a more focused and professional venue for nurturing business connections and gaining more meaningful sales leads? In that case your goals might be a good match for LinkedIn.
While LinkedIn has some similarities with other social media outlets it is different in that it is very carefully geared towards business networking and allowing its users to present themselves, their skills and their businesses in as much detail as they want. This not only gives businesses the opportunity to gear their profile specifically towards their target audience but it makes it easier for potential clients to find businesses that will meet their needs exactly, helping to increase the efficiency of networking on both ends.
When getting started with LinkedIn, as with many other forms of social media, the first step is to make certain that your profile is properly set up and completed. When talking about other social media outlets we focused more on creating a profile for your business - which is just as important on LinkedIn - but in this case it is equally important to build out your own personal profile. If you are connected with a company your potential clients may be as interested in your accomplishments and qualifications as they are in the details of your business. Be thorough, detailed and specific, on both a personal profile and a company page created for your business. Remember that potential clients are using this resource to research you! Tell them what they need to know when they are deciding whether to reach out!
There are some habits and principles that will hold true on any form of social media - it is never enough to just create a profile and then leave it to wither, no matter how well-built it is. Putting a profile up on LinkedIn isn’t like putting an ad in a newspaper - it’s neither static nor one-way. LinkedIn is an online networking event and you won’t get anywhere by being a wallflower!
This doesn’t mean that you should oversell or over-promote yourself or your business - LinkedIn is about connecting with individuals in hopes of forming/nurturing beneficial business connections. No one wants to be “that guy” at the event who can’t stop talking about his accomplishments and doesn’t stop to listen or have meaningful interactions. What you want to do is engage - seek out connections that you think would be beneficial both ways, join groups that discuss topics relevant to your industry, offer insights and advice when it’s asked for, and don’t be afraid to ask for insights and advice when you need them!
You should also take a different approach to making connections on LinkedIn than you would on more socially-oriented sites. On Facebook your goal is to reach as many people as possible but on LinkedIn your goal is to build and nurture mutually beneficial connections - think quality over quantity. There is a reason that connecting with someone on LinkedIn isn’t known as “friending” or “following” them. The dynamic is more goal-oriented.
With other social media you may ask “how often should I post?” With LinkedIn, rather than trying to aim for a certain number of posts, you may find it is better to simply designate a specific amount of time daily or weekly to spend on the site. Browse for possible connections, engage in conversations, both personal and in groups - in a word, mingle!
Of course posting is important as well, and you may even find it easier to post on LinkedIn than you would on Facebook. On Facebook you’re attempting to keep the interest of a wide audience - on LinkedIn you can post professional information or open discussions that might be too “dry” for your Facebook audience.
As with any large social media outlet you can find a myriad of information, tips and hints on how to most effectively use your LinkedIn account. Read and learn as much as you want, but, as always, don’t get bogged down by information overload! Put your information out there and interact genuinely with people and you’ll find that your time is well invested!