Business development · 5 July 2017

Using LinkedIn as an effective business tool – not just snooping on former colleagues

Simferopol, Crimea - May 25, 2014: LinkedIn is a social network for search and establishment of business contacts. It is founded in 2002.
Over 20m UK business professionals are making personal connections on LinkedIn

Having looked at how Facebook and Instagram can be used in small business marketing strategy, we now turn to a platform designed for professionals and consider the most useful ways of using LinkedIn.

When it comes to the numbers, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram boast considerable mainstream use. In the business world, however, LinkedIn is the networking destination. With over 20m UK business professionals signed up and using LinkedIn, new clients and connections are waiting to be found.

The aforementioned platforms can see even small brands rack up (or pay for) thousands of followers. However, LinkedIn serves a deeper purpose. In its own words, it’s about building relationships that count and using word of mouth to widen your network.

Tapping into the power of recommendations is central to using LinkedIn. According to official statistics, over three-quarters of B2B buyers on the platform prefer to work with recommendations from their own professional network.

The basics of using LinkedIn

Company page

Your company page acts as an essential starting point for the LinkedIn community. It’s where you can provide a short summary of your business, highlight job openings, and is a space to express your brand’s personality and mission.

It’s also a good opportunity to optimise your brand’s SEO value. Online tools like SEMrush can highlight the search terms most important to your business, which can then be incorporated into the page.

LinkedIn groups

Designed to be hubs of industry know-how, LinkedIn’s 1.6m groups bring together recruitment and procurement opportunities as well as content for professionals with shared interests. Reliably sharing relevant news will strengthen your brand’s reputation, boosting traffic to your own company’s page.

Groups are also useful in giving your company direct industry contact. Organisations are well represented, with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and other bodies offering members a chance to connect.

Advertising

Compared to Facebook’s ultra-competitive algorithm, paid advertising on LinkedIn might represent a cheaper alternative to get your company in front of its target audience. The capabilities, however, are largely similar and allow advertisers to manage campaigns through a sophisticated ads manager.

Building the perfect profile

We already know the company page is an important window into your business. However, your own profile still serves an important purpose in your mission to make personal connections. 

“Make sure your LinkedIn profile has a great picture, is written in the first person and shows the reason you do what you do,” advised Keren Lerner, founder of digital communications agency Top Left Design. “Describe each of your previous roles in a similar way, highlighting your career journey and showing your values.”

LinkedIn’s blogging tool also gives founders a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Frequent blog posts, Lerner added, “will help your personality and business expertise come across”.

“Choose a number of articles you feel comfortable about writing and publishing in the next six months and work towards that, making your articles useful to your prospective audience.”

With your profile in good health, it’s time to build your network.

Five steps for LinkedIn networking success

Jenny Bernade, head of social media at digital marketing agency Bozboz, drew on her professional experience of using LinkedIn to provide Business Advice readers with five important networking pointers.

  1. Ensure your profile is fully up to date

“LinkedIn will give you a blue star on your profile when it’s fully updated and will push you to update your profile and fill in any gaps.”

  1. Contribute to the newsfeed and share relevant updates

“Make sure your updates are set to ‘public’ – this means when your connections engage with the post, their connections can see your update too. Think of it like your personal brand awareness and the number of impressions your content is making.

“Use hashtags in your updates so people outside of your network can browse content, find updates and connect with you.”

  1. Go out and make connections with people in your industry

“Search industry job titles, keywords, or companies for people you might like to connect with. When you connect with someone, include their name and add a personal note to acknowledge their interests are similar to yours.”

  1. Connect with users who have engaged with your content

“The chances are, if they liked your content, they’ll want to speak to you about potential opportunities. Again, when you connect, thank them for engaging with you.”

  1. Join networking groups and follow other company pages

“You can spend a long time on LinkedIn reading and engaging with articles from other experts, and finding new people to connect with. Once you get involved and active in the online community, you will find your network grow as you meet people across the platform.”

Using LinkedIn to connect with journalists

“Every business needs PR,” Alison Shadrack, founder of Adia PR, told Business Advice.

“However, it can be difficult to make beneficial media connections when your company is brand new, just beginning to expand or niche-focused.”

Shadrack said LinkedIn was an “invaluable” resource for founders to make connections with journalists and outlined the best ways of making media in-roads to find exposure. 

“Firstly, you can use LinkedIn to gather information about journalists and their respective media outlets, so you can: A) determine if their publication is right for promoting your business, and B) to learn what they’re looking for in a story.

“Secondly, you have a good chance of connecting with a journalist on LinkedIn. The probability of you having a common connection with one is high, and I would suggest you take every connection opportunity available to you.”

Shadrack advised using industry keywords to help spark conversations and including any relevant links to your own expertise in your profile.

Taking the advice of our expert panel will enable you to get the most out of LinkedIn and its brand building tools, helping to open new opportunities and even generate leads.

Find out how other social media platforms can support company growth

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

Q&A

If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

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