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This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.
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55 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

 

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.
Thanks to: Rosanne Dausilio of Human Technologies Global Inc.

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.
Thanks to: Haleh Rabizadeh of Little Patient Big Doctor.

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!
Thanks to: Becky Boyd of MediaFirst PR.

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.
Thanks to: Jane Morrison of Morrison Business Solutions.

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.
Thanks to: Eric Richard of Appointment-Plus.

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!
Thanks to: Ben Baker of CMYK Solutions Inc.

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.
Thanks to: Susan Greene of Freelance Copywriter.

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.
Thanks to: Marlene Caroselli of "Jesus, Jonas, and Janus".

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.
Thanks to: Warren Bobrow of Wild River Review.

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.
Thanks to: Ely Delaney of Your Marketing University.

11. Automate Feed from Twitter

Automatically post Twitter updates to your LinkedIn status:
https://www.linkedin.com/secure/settings?twitterSettings=&trk=msitehomepage
Thanks to: Erik Pelton of Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC.

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.
Thanks to: Melissa Giovagnoli-Wilson of Networlding.

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.
Thanks to: Maria Marsala of Elevating Your Business.

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!
Thanks to: Patti Biro of Patti Biro and Associates.

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!
Thanks to: Laura Morales of Energize Your Outlook.

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.
Thanks to: Bill Gluth of Bill Gluth.com, Creative Thinking.

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.
Thanks to: Randy Peyser of Author One Stop, Inc.

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.
Thanks to: Kevin Benton of Kevin Benton Ministries.

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.
Thanks to: Harlan Goerger of H Goerger & Associcates dba AskHG.

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.
Thanks to: Angel Tuccy of Experience Pros.

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.
Thanks to: Roz Wolf of Roz Wolf PR.

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.
Thanks to: Wayne Breitbarth of Power Formula LLC.

23. Curiosity

Create curiosity on LinkedIn. What are one or two ideas that would get someone curious about you and your business?
Thanks to: Todd Stofka of Philly Hypnosis Performance.

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.
Thanks to: Danny Wong of Custom Dress Shirts by TT.

25. Targets

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.
Thanks to: Sherell Edwards of The Christian Women's Leadership Ex.

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?
Thanks to: Angela Treat Lyon of The Daring Dreamers Showcase.

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.
Thanks to: Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations.

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!
Thanks to: 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.
Thanks to: Eula M. Young, COO of Griot's Roll Film Production .

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.
Thanks to: Paul Scheatzle of Bailey Rehabilitaion.

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.
Thanks to: Joy Pedersen of Express Success.

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.
Thanks to: Mark Reff of One Touch Art.

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.
Thanks to: Bud Bilanich of The Common Sense Guy.

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!
Thanks to: Chuck Hester of Chuck Hester Enterprises.

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.
Thanks to: Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems.

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.
Thanks to: Patti Hill of Penman PR.

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!
Thanks to: Marty Fahncke of FawnKey and Associates.

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.
Thanks to: Shel Horowitz of Green And Profitable.

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.
Thanks to: Ross Kimbarovsky of crowdSPRING.

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.
Thanks to: Mike Samson of crowdSPRING.

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.
Thanks to: Mike Saxton of Science Fiction Author.

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.
Thanks to: Devesh Dwivedi of Breaking The 9 To 5 Jail.

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.
Thanks to: Junior Sanchez of RIFT SUCCESS.

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!
Thanks to: Edward Leigh, MA of Center for Healthcare Communication.

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?
Thanks to: Fraser Hay of The Results Academy.com.

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.
Thanks to: Miles Christian Daniels of milesmaria.

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.
Thanks to: David Perry of Perry-Martel international Inc.

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.
Thanks to: Michael McCauley of Vitaerobics.

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.
Thanks to: Kendra Bonnett of Women's Memoirs.

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!
Thanks to: Jennifer Garcia of Logicreative.

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.
Thanks to: Randy Savicky of Strategy+Communications.

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!
Thanks to: Kristin Andree of Andree Media & Consulting.

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!
Thanks to: Stephanie C. Williams of Crowned One Worldwide Inc.

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.
Thanks to: Kelly Isley of Corcoran Associates.

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.
Thanks to: Heidi McCarthy of Toughest Customer.

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!

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
2 comments
SandyMetcalf
SandyMetcalf

Like this post, well said and a lot of ideas I had not thought of. I am doing a blog post on this at this subject at this time and I am going to link your post to mine.

 

Take Care Sandy

 

Sandy Metcalf

Attraction Marketing for MLMers Consultant

CoachScottGraham
CoachScottGraham

I just discovered a major issue with product recommendations. So little known is this that I couldn’t find ANY reference to it anywhere via a Google search, so I posted a question on LinkedIn Answers and it was swooped up by LinkedIn support.

Five days later, I got a reply: In order to give recommendations on a Company Page, you need an established account with a profile that’s at least 50% complete, and you also need to have connections.

The issue is that someone who is not on LinkedIn but wants to give your product (via Company Pages) a recommendation can’t just create a LinkedIn account and then give you a recommendation. They need to create connections, add a photo and take other actions to get the privilege of recommending a product. LinkedIn doesn’t tell you that — in fact this fact is found no where in the LinkedIn documentation for company pages.

 
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