How to best use Linkedin for your small business

Making a choice for the right social media venue can be as overwhelming as trying to select the winning slot machine in a Las Vegas casino. Every one of them works hard to lure you in with temptations hard to resist. Let me make it easy for you. As a partner in an Internet marketing firm I have to make the same decisions about where to spend my precious networking time just like any other small business owner.

LinkedIn is for Businesses

Other social media marketing tools such as Facebook and Twitter can give your business higher visibility, but they come with a reputation for being more like journals for personal exchange with people you know. LinkedIn has been around longer and is respected as a resource for business data. Even the top executives in Fortune 500 companies use it as a way to increase their Internet presence and add credibility to their business profiles. Let me say it like this - if the world's top business people are using it to strengthen their public images, why wouldn't you?

How to Get the Most from Your Profile

It might sound a little simplistic, but if you want to network and generate leads from your LinkedIn page you have to create it. When you set up your profile the system will ask you a lot of questions. Take the time to answer all of them thoughtfully. The more people know about you, the more they will develop a sense of trust. Remember that you are tapping into a network of over 100 million business professionals that are now potential leads for your business. You'll have access to their direct contact information, but the reverse is also true. An excellent profile may encourage them to seek you out, so take the opportunity to toot your own horn.

Techniques for Creating Interest

Edit your website link to the "custom" version. The point in doing this is to help your target market make it easier to find you. All they are concerned about is what you can do to help them with some aspect of their personal life or business. Be sure to include a call to action directing them to your site that describes what they will find if they click on the link.

Use the free blog app to drive traffic back to your blog or website. Once you have it installed, your blog posts will automatically start showing up in your LinkedIn profile.

Think about the other millions of LinkedIn profiles that may be in direct competition with you. How do you make yourself stand out in the crowd? Try adding a short video clip with a riveting 30-second "elevator" speech that grabs a person's attention and creates enthusiasm.

Take advantage of the "answers" section. By providing answers to questions relate to your industry you'll develop further credibility as an expert and gain more exposure for your business.

Participate in group discussions. This is another excellent networking opportunity, especially when you find a group discussion that allows you to showcase your expertise. If you can't seem to find the right group, initiate one of your own. You have the potential for directly messaging thousands of people weekly and directing them back to your business website.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask

Being "gutsy" has its advantages. Ask people in your network for testimonials about your business and the work you do. Neither should you be afraid to look over the contacts belonging to your own contacts. This gives you a whole new avenue for finding leads. When you find the "perfect" customer, reach out and make contact. Strike up a conversation and get the ball rolling. It's what LinkedIn is all about - helping professionals connect with other professionals that can help them.
 
More business articles by Robbi Gunter.

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