Instead of asking if you should be using LinkedIn for your business, the better question is why aren’t you using it? LinkedIn is the premier business social networking site. Unlike Facebook, which can be riddled with family posts and memes, LinkedIn is the social media network designed for professionals.
In addition, LinkedIn allows users to create not only a personal profile, but a company page as well. This enables you to cross-promote your business with little added effort. As you and your employees update your profiles with career experience, individual personal profiles will automatically link to the company page. This feature allows users to see insights about the company, as well as the people who work there. You can also seek candidates for openings at your business on LinkedIn.
Beyond establishing profiles, LinkedIn is a great tool to build your own brand. Business people who share what they are passionate about and detail how their passion adds value stand out from folks who simply list things that they do. I suggest taking the full dive into LinkedIn and tap into the various features that will help you get noticed.
Once you’re comfortable navigating the network, consider joining industry groups relevant to your area of expertise. Following and joining groups allows you to have discussions with experts in various fields. Aside from being a great place to learn, participating in group discussions will give your business some added visibility and is a great organic way to generate leads. I have expertise in pharmaceutical software and have joined groups related to pharmaceutical topics. I have benefitted from engaging directly with industry experts.
Another way to highlight your area of expertise is sharing articles or blogs on the network’s publishing platform, LinkedIn Pulse. One of my passions is talking about software development methods and the social aspects of it. For me, the easiest way to share my passion is to write about it, which I did extensively. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, this is a good way to evangelize your business, while identifying yourself as an authority in your niche. Bonus: you can see how many people viewed your article, as well as how many engaged with the post – either liking it, commenting, or sharing it. It’s an effective way to track which topics resonate best with your network.
Speaking of network, you will want to grow yours. When setting up your account LinkedIn will ask if you would like to connect with users who you regularly email. You can also search for people you know by name or place of business. It’s best to send invitations to only people who you know. LinkedIn will generate a generic invitation, but I suggest personalizing it to reference how you know the person or a project you may have assisted with. The people you are connected to are first-degree connections. Other users may show up as second-degree connections, which means that you share a mutual connection. It’s a good idea to ask your mutual connection to do a virtual introduction. People are more likely to connect with someone on a friend or colleague’s recommendation.
I have provided an overview of the free features anyone can take advantage of on LinkedIn. There are many others available for folks wishing to pay for a premium account or wishing to advertise.