Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business
If you’re not on LinkedIn already, you should be. As the world’s largest professional online networking service with over 380 million active users, this is one platform you must take advantage of. I registered for LinkedIn before launching my business, and it has helped me tremendously ever since. Many of my first clients came from LinkedIn because you’re able to communicate with other business owners in a non-cheesy, non-spammy kind of way. If you put in some time and effort into growing your LinkedIn account, I am certain it will do wonders for you as well.
LinkedIn is an online networking platform that is highly professional and was designed for the business world. Many entrepreneurs join LinkedIn to meet and connect with other small business owners. However, many large corporations and job seekers also join LinkedIn because it has handy features that allow employers and prospective employees to easily find one another. You create “connections” with people you know or would like to know, and you can follow their updates, start a private message, or congratulate them on a new position. Essentially, LinkedIn is almost like a combination of popular social media platforms. It allows you to share photos, publish posts, share short updates, and join groups to connect with other professionals who have similar interests or professions. The possibilities go on and on, which is what makes LinkedIn such a powerful tool.
If you’re not on LinkedIn already, visit their website and join for free. It’ll ask you to fill out basic information to create an account, and then you’ll be able to complete much more detailed questions to establish a strong account. You can add a profile picture, your education, current job and work history, volunteer involvement, a bio about who you are and what you do, contact information, organizations you’re a part of, awards and recognition you’ve received, and so much more. By creating a detailed LinkedIn account, potential employers, clients, or customers will be able to find out a lot about who you are. Typically, this is a very good thing because people become more comfortable before meeting face-to-face or inquiring over the phone if they feel like they know you a little bit. Also, this allows others to find something they have in common with you, which always makes for a more successful meeting.
After you’ve created your account and filled out as much information as you are comfortable with about yourself, it’s time to start connecting. I am going to give you a forewarning from my own personal experience getting started with LinkedIn. When I first created my account, I was so excited to connect with hundreds of strangers to share my company with them and learn more about their own companies. However, little did I know at the time, LinkedIn will freeze your account and require you to jump through a few hoops if you start requesting to connect with too many strangers. Unfortunately not everyone will want to connect with you if they don’t actually know you, and they could mark you as spam by saying “I don’t know this person.” In turn, that’s when LinkedIn steps in and disallows you from logging in or accessing your account whatsoever. I had to reach out to them and send a copy of my ID to prove I was in fact who I claimed to be. This turned out to be a lengthy, in depth process that hopefully you all will avoid! The lesson is: only connect with people you know. Start there- request all of your friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and family. From there, you can occasionally request to connect with a friend of a friend and start to grow your connection, but be weary of how many connection requests you send in a short timeframe.
After you’ve started to build up your connections, the next important stage to making the most of LinkedIn is joining groups. Search terms related to your industry and join relevant groups where you can provide valuable information and connect with like-minded professionals. Once you’ve been accepted (some automatically accept prospects, while others may be pending for a while), start posting in the groups a few times a week. Make sure the content you publish is relevant to the group, or again you could be marked as spam and prohibited from posting anything in the future. In addition to posting your own content, check the groups daily and interact; comment on other posts, and answer questions. Similar to the purpose of writing a blog, getting heavily involved in groups will quickly establish yourself as an expert and you’ll gain new connections and opportunities.
If you’re a business owner, you also have the option to create a business page. I personally don’t have one because they don’t seem to be too popular, but it can’t hurt! To me, LinkedIn is more for individuals to connect with one another, but there are a few businesses who choose to create a LinkedIn page for their company. If you’d like to create a page, click on Interests, then Companies. From there, you’ll see a “Create” button that will take you through the steps to create your page. Once you have established your page, you can share it on your other social media accounts and begin posting regularly to gain more followers.
What do you love most about LinkedIn? How has it helped your career or business?