Using LinkedIn Effectively to Build your Business

By Andrew Paul | Small Business

Albeit, this post is a little off topic for me and isn’t really connected to email marketing but I thought it was an important part of marketing yourself and your business, so I decided to share my thoughts on the subject.

Using LinkedIn Effectively to Build your Business image LinkedIn biz 300x166Using LinkedIn Effectively to Build your BusinessLinkedIn is an awesome business marketing and communications tool. It provides a great way to connect with peers, business contacts, improve your business and network. If you use it correctly, you can enhance your personal and business brand. LinkedIn allows you to connect with like minded business people who are interested in networking, making new business connections and improving their reach. Remember, it’s not only what you know but who you know that will help you get ahead. Building beneficial connections takes time and effort. Be smart about who you connect with and how you use LinkedIn.

Below are some suggestions that will help you get the most out of using LinkedIn correctly and not making stupid mistakes.

  • Keep your profile up to date and complete:  LinkedIn has many great features. Your LinkedIn Profile is still one of the most compelling reasons to use the website, which is why LinkedIn is one of the best searchable databases of business people available. If you want people to find you, you need to make sure that your profile is complete and up to date.
  • Don’t use canned invitations: This doesn’t mean every Invitation has to be a lengthy personal novel. Below are a few tips for keeping Invitations efficient and personal.
    • Keep it short and simple. Don’t use the default invite that automatically appears when you send an invitation to connect.
    • Don’t click the button that say’s this person is my “friend”, when you don’t even know the person. I am amazed how many people attempt to connect to me by using this feature. I always ignore requests that come from people saying they are my friend when I don’t know who they are. This is a really bad way to try and connect to people.
    • Only connect to people you know, people you do business with or people who you would like to do business with that are in your same industry. There has to be a mutual benefit for someone to accept your invitation and connect with you. If you don’t know the person, there has to be some type of common connection to connect with them. If you share a group, use that group to connect and write them a personalized email explaining why you want to connect. If you have a mutual and common LinkedIn connection, ask that person to introduce you to the person you would like to connect with.
  • Don’t expect everyone to use LinkedIn the same way you do: Setting rigid networking standards is a bad thing to do. What’s the point of posting a profile and using LinkedIn if you don’t have an interest in connecting with people, networking and building your business? This can be a source of needless frustration and can actually prevent you from building relationships and building your brand.
  • Give LinkedIn messages equal importance: Many people have a tendency to treat LinkedIn communications as less important or less time-sensitive than a regular e-mail or phone call. Nothing could be further from the truth. People get jobs, hire employees, gain clients, and make deals as a result of LinkedIn communications. They are every bit as important and must be a part of your essential business correspondence just like the rest of your e-mail. If they’re not, you’re connecting with the wrong people.
  • Don’t spam: One person’s networking is another person’s spam. Better to err on the side of caution. There are plenty of ways to use LinkedIn productively without getting a bad rep as a spammer. Some basic rules of etiquette are:
    • Don’t post marketing messages, job listings, or connection-seeking messages on LinkedIn Answers.
    • Don’t automatically subscribe your connections to your newsletter.
    • Don’t send connection requests to people you don’t know or don’t have some type of connection to.
  • Do your homework: People provide you all kinds of guidance, both direct and implicit, regarding what to contact them about and how. If you’re the one initiating the communication, it’s your responsibility to communicate on their terms. Showing them that you took the time to do your homework about them demonstrates a certain level of commitment to the relationship right from the outset.
  • Be proactive when making new connections: If you just set up a profile, connect with a few of your friends, contacts and people you know personally, and don’t expect your phone to start ringing off the hook. Business will not start flowing automatically just because you have a profile setup. It takes time to build quality connections and understand how to communicate with them.
  • Don’t confuse quantity with quality: If you want to track your real progress using LinkedIn, don’t measure it by meaningless metrics like number of connections, endorsements, or questions answered. Use metrics that you know directly tie to business results, such as:
    • Leads generated
    • Joint venture requests
    • Strategic partner prospects
    • New sales
    • Speaking opportunities
    • Publicity opportunities

LinkedIn needs to be used intelligently and as an add-on to your existing business communication tools. Regularly update your profile status. You shouldn’t update your LinkedIn status with non-business related items. This is not Facebook. Update your profile status with news articles or interesting posts related to your industry, company related headlines, and relevant content. You want to engage conversation, and most importantly, show your professional connections what’s happening in the industry and your world. Make time for LinkedIn on a daily basis. Share helpful and informative information, great articles and disseminate valuable information that your connections can use.

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