LinkedIn can be a fantastic tool for improving your business. In order to maximize the benefits from using LinkedIn, I have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of entrepreneurs and experts to give their best tips for using LinkedIn to grow and improve business. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar insights, but I kept the concepts separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Hello to Groups
I use LinkedIn to post upcoming webinars, articles, columns, and events where I am either speaking, presenting, or I think would be of interest to all. Not only do I post this on my regular space, but I also send it to all of the groups to which I belong, which really gets the word out, helps create my credibility, and keeps my name in front of people I can't always get in front of. This truly is the paradigm shift of one to one to one to many in action.
2. Key to Business Support
Let's keep this simple. LinkedIn is about creating a business community so that we can support each other. Community = Join Groups + Ask Questions.
Summary: Get yourself in the crowd and get involved. The rest will just happen.
3. LI Groups & Email Marketing
Join LinkedIn Groups that target your audience. Then, submit links to press releases or articles featuring your company, along with short comments and summaries on the targeted groups. The groups send out email newsletters to members and will include your link & message. This is like free email marketing!
4. Dare to Expose Yourself
Most LinkedIn profiles are boring and can put you to sleep in a few seconds! Make yours shine by sharing a bit about yourself personally in the summary section on your profile. Tell others why you are in the business you're in. Share with them about your passions or values or what makes you different from your competitors.
By sharing some of your personality, it gives the reader a glimpse into who you are
and you're likely to stand out and be viewed as a much more interesting prospect.
5. Announce Deals, Book Services
Like other social media sites, a LinkedIn company page is a great place to announce deals, promotions and ongoing specials. You'll quickly generate a loyal and growing following of customers to market your products and services to. And many will visit often to see what's new with your business. If you're a service-based business with online scheduling, you can even include a link that allows them to book their services or reservations at the same time.
6. Answer Random Questions
If I look back at the years that I have been involved in Linkedin, I think that the ratio of questions I answer compared to those I ask has to be at least 50:1. Taking the time to look through my areas of interest and expertise, singling out the questions where I can provide value and then providing thought provoking answers has been a key to my success. As well, at the end of the post, I always put an offer to contact me for more help AND a LINK to my website. Amazing the HITS I get!
7. Don't Just Take -- Give!
The best way to forge relationships and get your LinkedIn contacts actively seeking business to steer your way is to give more than you take. What can you give? Advice, leads, links to relevant articles, information, compassion, your time and more. Give those things that will help others know you are a knowledgeable and helpful person who cares about others. Your contacts will soon become friends and the relationship that emerges will be mutually beneficial.
8. Each One Reach One
Use your LinkedIn connections to both give and take. Give your colleagues something to improve their lives--a tip, a website you've found, maybe even an ebook. In return, ask them to send it along to at least one of their own connections. Life and LinkedIn are all about growth and you can grow your followers by asking for help and making your helpers glad that you did.
9. Wow 'Em with Manners!
I've been very successful (maybe not monetarily, but certainly Karmic) by writing letters of recommendation for people who not only follow me on LinkedIn, but attempt to engage me in conversation about my craft and passion for good story-telling through food.
It's been a rough road to travel, but the rewards are finally starting to pay off. Be nice! Thank your friends for helping you and by all means write letters of recommendation for them on LinkedIn.
10. Built in Testimonial Magnet
When it comes to testimonials, we all should be doing a better job of gathering them from our clients.
But how many times have you asked for testimonials and your client says they would love to but just isn't sure what to say?
LinkedIn makes it about as easy as possible for them to do so. And since it is built in to their system, people are more likely to click the link and fill in the form. It only takes them a couple of minutes and it is much easier than starting form a blank screen.
11. Automate Feed from Twitter
Automatically post Twitter updates to your LinkedIn status:
12. Create Winning Keywords
Everything in marketing has shifted from a "push" to a "pull" mode. Use LinkedIn and its "Advanced People Search" Page. Hint: it's at the upper, far right-hand corner of the home page and says "Advanced."
Once on the page, at the upper left you will see a search box called "Keywords." Here you can type in what you think would be the best words for others to find you. Sort by "Connections." You can find the "Sort by" at the bottom left side of the page. See the words that top networkers use.
13. ANSWERING ANSWERS Made Easy
Target your audience and answer the questions geared towards their problems and questions. How? In your RSS feeds, create a folder called LinkedIn and subscribe to all of the LinkedIn RSS main category feeds. Next, using Outlook, set up a SEARCH to search through all of the feed categories for the important keywords to you. SEARCH is right below the Send Items folder on the bottom of your Personal Folders. Never used SEARCH before? Microsoft offers a free video/print tutorial on their website.
14. Join a Group!
I have found the LinkedIn Groups to be a great way to create dialog, while giving great exposure to my business. Research the groups that are most closely aligned with the clientele you want to work with and begin the process of joining those groups! But don't sit on the fence- begin to start discussions, add comments, provide resources that you have developed or located that are relevant to the group. In short- work to be an influence in the group...and the rewards will follow!
15. Study to Play or Muddy to Stay
Before you invite someone to be "added to your professional network" via LinkedIn, DO your homework; learn a little bit about them so that when you invite them, you can personalize your invitation by paying them a sincere compliment. In this way, you study to be able to play and earn the respect of your new connection FIRST, versus muddying the water and making it all about YOU and the expansion of YOUR network - They won't really want to connect if there's nothing in it for them!
16. There's Power in Numbers
The most powerful way I've used to build real connections on LinkedIn is through groups. Join groups that focus on your passion and authority. Participate in discussions by sharing a unique perspective that empowers other people to act. Start discussions that ask open ended questions. Meet people, share perspectives and get to know them. Then, find ways you might be able to partner and connect offline. The connection can become a referral exchange or strategic partnership that leads to revenue.
17. Get Business on LinkedIn
Join lots of LinkedIn groups in your subject area. Showcase your expertise in each group by sharing the most up-to-date information or by answering questions that others can't answer. Never put another person's answer down; just share your wisdom. Your reputation will shine and people will naturally turn to you and seek you out.
18. Network, Network, Network
My ONE BEST tip on the best way to use LinkedIn to improve your business is to network, network, network. Typically in business, everything comes down to building relationships with people. During the process of networking, try to garner as many genuine relationships as you can. Also, be willing to give first by supporting others and their interests. I would like to believe that if you ever needed support from them, they would be more than happy to help you. This is how one hand washes the other.
19. Group Posts Drive Traffic
Drive traffic & enrollments to webinars through LinkedIn postings. Specific groups on LinkedIn are looking for specific inputs, knowledge, & products. Determine which types of groups have your potential customers as members. On open groups, almost anyone can post; for closed groups, you need to be a member. Pose a question for the group that relates to your post to get a viable conversation going. Most will read the article/post about your webinar etc. Answer posts, be genuine, & people will respond.
20. Be a Joiner
I've discovered that LinkedIn is one large group made up of lots of smaller groups. You can join a group, or several, that share common interests, ideal clients, or experts to collaborate with. Once you've joined, comment on the topics, start your own discussions and contribute helpful articles to the group. Stay current, add value, and remember to connect as if you were connecting with a real person, because you are.
21. Invite Groups to Your Event
Start joining as many appropriate groups on LinkedIn as you can. Then, introduce yourself by creating a public event, rather than a discussion. This way you can have a virtual "meet and greet." Maybe you want to share your top 10 secrets to success? You could get noticed this way. An event acts a like a virtual "post card" announcing your skills. Even if people cannot physically attend your virtual event, they have just learned more about you.
22. Finding "Your" Most Connected
Are you connected to the most connected people in your market, industry, region etc?
Don't know? Would you like to be?
TIP: By resorting an advanced people search (with your personal criteria like region, industry, keywords, etc) from the default of "Relevance" to "Connections" you will then get this list resorted in the order of the person with the most first degree LinkedIn connections on top and the rest in decreasing order.
You sure want to meet these folks.
Create curiosity on LinkedIn. What are one or two ideas that would get someone curious about you and your business?
24. Get Some Chatter
Start forums and discussions on LinkedIn to get your stakeholders more involved. Be responsive and connect with them. It's a simple way to increase loyalty and then sales.
The way LinkedIn is set up allows you to locate and connect with thousands of individuals that likely fit your target market. The site also has groups to join which are extensions of your contact list and ways to market yourself and your business, product or service.
26. Your Unique LinkedIn Invite
Because LinkedIn default messages are so blah, I created my own invite for friending people:
"My professional network on LinkedIn wouldn't be complete with you and your expertise and commitment - we're making the world a great(er) place. Please say yes to join my network!
aloha - Angela Treat Lyon, IDareYouRadio.com"
It looks and sounds friendlier than the default one. I have it in a plain-text doc file that I keep open on my desktop for easy access.
What will you put in yours?
27. Join Groups/Answer Questions!
LinkedIn is great for networking and growing your business in so many ways, but one of the most effective ways to use it is to join groups and answer questions. This helps you to be seen as an expert and makes you rank higher in the "Top Influencers" of the week.
28. Content, Context, Consistency
When it comes to LinkedIn, rockstar content is not enough.
If you want to drive business, you must also focus on context and consistency. Context helps readers interpret content. Consistency ensures that your story is believable.
For instance, take a profile summary that reads, "Experienced administrator, program manager, and strategic thinker." Would a truly strategic thinker list "administrative" skills first?
To get the most from LinkedIn, make your content and context consistent!
Jason Seiden of Ajax
29. Take it Offline
I find the best way to use Linkedin is to build a relationship online by engaging in posts, and then take the relationship offline by attending the in person events. I also resend and repost business owners' events; this builds trust and it helps the person get the event notice. When you help others, they will want to go out of their way to help you.
30. Link Yourself In
LinkedIn is in many ways a concierge e-mail list. It personally serves, informs and strengthens business relationships with those people who have agreed to participate with you. It is personalized to people that need your services and it is the "anti-spam". E-mail blasts by their nature may have a very small conversion rate to sales or even interest. LinkedIn consists of colleagues or people you have done business with, hits your target and is more effective than a social networking site.
31. Business Network on LinkedIn
I started an open business network group within the LinkedIn structure, inviting other business people to participate so everyone could network more effectively by starting the conversation. After reading an article about the benefits of making recommendations on LinkedIn, I shared the article and encouraged people to recommend those within the group they knew to help everyone long term and began recommending those I could. The whole structure benefits all participants, including myself.
32. Show Some Personality
The more effort you put into developing your LinkedIn personality, the more success you will have on this network. Be active in groups, add your voice to discussions and show genuine interest in others. The result will be increased visibility and the opportunity to forge meaningful relationships that could result in business referrals.
33. Get Involved!
LinkedIn is a social network. And like any social network, the key to success is getting involved. Spend some time on LinkedIn. Find groups you like and where you can add something positive. Join them and contribute. Start discussions and comment on other discussions.
The key to success on LinkedIn is to get known as someone who is positive and makes positive contributions. Once you do this, you'll be in a position to use LinkedIn to build your sales.
34. Change the Value Proposition
Be part of the community. Ask people you connect with how you can help them, instead of asking for their business. Change the Value Proposition!
By asking what you can do for a connection, you turn what can often be perceived as a sales situation into a relationship-building opportunity! Be proactive, pay it forward, and the business will come back to you!
35. Group Networking to Wealth
The best way to make LinkedIn work for you is to join groups and be active in them. Comment and post on relevant matters in the groups and you will get business, because you will be top of mind with other business leaders. And because you have already created value for them, they want to do business with you. This builds the know, like and trust factor that is so important today and especially on social media today. Your contacts will soar and so will your business if you use this strategy.
36. LinkedIn for Market Research
LinkedIn is a stellar tool for gathering user feedback and market insight. Our approach is to leverage groups, and use our personal networks to jump start an outreach campaign. We engage in a manner that is meaningful for participants and frame our questions in a way that encourages people to share their passions and deliver real insight. We then follow up with a note of thanks and an explanation of how the user’s participation contributed to the overall project.
37. A "Recommended" Tip for You
My most powerful LinkedIn tip: Leverage "Recommendations". Smart entrepreneurs would never create a marketing piece that didn't include at least one testimonial. Why? Because testimonials have a huge impact in making the consumer take action. Your LinkedIn profile is there to sell you and your business. The third-party testimonials in "Recommendations" tip the scales so the right people are motivated to contact you. So, request as many "Recommendations" as you can, and watch the business flow in!
38. Pick 2, 3 LI Discussion Lists
The real power of LinkedIn is in discussion groups.
I've been doing discussion group marketing all the way back to 1995. I like LinkedIn's discussion groups because you get to be in front of the same people over time, as an expert and not a hawker, and people start seeking you out. Pick just a few with large membership and the right audience for your offering.
39. Recommending LinkedIn Features
LinkedIn has some powerful features that most people don’t use. For example, you can encourage your customers, clients or vendors to give you a “recommendation” on your profile. Recommendations are useful because they’ll make you and your business more credible with new customers.
40. A Group Connection
Find some groups on LinkedIn that have a connection to your business and become involved in the conversations. Answer questions when you can, and help to establish yourself as knowledgeable about specific topics related to your business. There are many business and general marketing groups that are useful resources, and if there isn’t a group that interests you, consider starting one.
41. Be a Real Person
When building your profile, you obviously want to show that you're an expert, but you also want to show that you're a human being. Especially when you deal in service, people like to know they are dealing with someone personable, someone who they can relate to. Be that person.
42. Q & A
Answer questions of your niche/expertise in Q & A. You can use the same questions- answers to build a FAQ for your clients, or expand on them to write posts on your blog, as these questions are what your target market is wondering about. Ask your peers and customers to jump in and read other responses too to get an idea of other perspectives and trends. Show your expertise, but stay away from OVER self-promotion. It is a time consuming strategy, but it's organic and long lasting.
43. Never Spam LinkedIn Contacts
The best tip I can provide is to never spam your LinkedIn connections with email after email pitching your business. If you are considered a spammer, any news you may have that will increase your clientele will not be considered valuable. I would suggest that you speak a bit about yourself and your business on your introductory email or even on the email you send thanking them for the connection. There have been many networkers that have lost connections and business due to spamming.
44. Join Groups & Offer Tips!
I have had a LinkedIn profile for over a year. Nothing happened. Then, I joined several LinkedIn groups & became very active with discussions. I make sure I provide value – I offer many tips throughout the discussions. I position myself as a source of helpful information. This led to media interviews & many current business opportunities! There are many groups – join them and become a valuable resource!
45. Getting More Out of LinkedIn!
Revisit your Linkedin profile often...Don't make the classic mistake of not stating who you work with and who you can help. Ensure you list the types of people you can assist and the problems, needs or frustrations that they may suffer from. This helps to qualify people. Ensure that you have your keyword or phrase in your name, headline, position fields, summary & specialties. Also, ensure that you select the correct category and have you added the slideshare application to your profile yet?
46. Engage in Group Conversations
Join Groups that make sense for your business & area of expertise. But remember, LinkedIn is a social networking site, meaning contribute rather than sell. Post valuable commentary around already-established threads. When appropriate, lead the conversation. By doing so, you solidify yourself as a respected internal expert. Subtlety and value- let these guide each of your postings and the result will be potential clients clicking over to view your profile and eventually, wanting to know more.
47. Put a Promise in Your Headline
Example LinkedIn tag lines that drive views:
- Recruiting black-belt who builds executive teams for explosive growth. Ask me how one client's search had an ROI of 180:1
- I save money for high-tech firms by _____ [fill in the blank].
- I increase efficiency up to 32% by ____ [fill in the blank].
Then, prove your claims with recommendations, numbers & examples.
48. Make Friends, Influence People
There are two things that every LinkedIn member should do. First, grow your network by joining groups in your field. Once you are a member of a group, you can easily add connections by connecting with other members. Second, establish yourself as an expert. On your home page, go to the More tab and select Answers. Look for questions where you can provide value and answer them. This builds your credibility with others with interests similar to yours.
49. Keywords Get You Found
Stop playing around with Farmville; the real business is happening on LinkedIn. This is the place you want to be found. Before filling out your profile, make sure you know the keywords for your industry...the ones your prospects are actually using. Use these keywords as often as possible in strategic locations throughout your profile: headline, summary, current position, specialties and experience. Keywords will give you search prominence on LinkedIn, just as they do on Google.
50. Ramp Up Your Linkedin Profile
Your LinkedIn Profile may be a person's first contact with you, so a complete profile is essential. Think online resume. Write a headline that describes your profession & grabs attention rather than "owner of". Your summary should say what you do and what separates you from the competition. List what you've done for each position entered, education, awards & join professional groups. Add your Wordpress blog, Google or SlideShare presentations. MOST IMPORTANT: Get recommendations!
51. Groups: Go for the Max
Having been on LinkedIn for more years than I can remember, my one tip is to maximize the number of groups to which you belong. LinkedIn lets you join up to 50 groups, so make them a mix of professional affiliations and industry groups. The former is good for peer networking, while the latter can lead to new business opportunities. By expanding your groups, you expand your connections, making your LinkedIn presence more valuable and worthwhile.
52. Target Practice
Begin by clearly identifying your target market. Then run an Advanced Search indicating your target market criteria in either the title or keyword sections. Search for 2nd degree connections only. The result...a wealth of ideal prospects you can then ask to be introduced to. Here is where it gets personal -- CALL, don't email, and ask the common connection to make an introduction. Conversations and meetings taken offline will likely result in more business!
53. Chain the LINK.....
In order to get the most business use out of LinkedIn, you must:
LASSO - organize your connections in like groups:
IMPRINT - brand yourself and make your mark:
NODE - use the power of attachment (connection):
KNOW - your goals:
Break down LinkedIn into manageable bites to generate leads for your business and buzz for your brand. Set a schedule of how often you will log into LinkedIn and the amount of time you will spend in each session. Be consistent!
54. Erase Silence
Today, sharp business professionals are locating people on LinkedIn prior to their initial meeting for all of the right reasons. Why? To identify common ground so their conversations are more engaging and the non-productive silence can be erased.
55. Don't Be Shy!
Join relevant groups and participate in the discussions. This is a great way to get your name "out there", to meet new people and demonstrate your expertise. Grow your personal network by reaching out to members of the groups you belong too - and accepting the connections offered to you. Also, be sure to make regular business related posts.
Do you know another tip that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!