Linked In has been around for a long time, however it’s been used more for job search than small business development. But all that is changing.
By using a few simple optimization tricks and a couple of user-friendly strategies – YOU can turn Linked In into a major player in your promotion toolbox.
The thing to remember is that you’re linking PEOPLE and resources – not companies and jobs.
It’s a virtual Rolodex, with about 100 million users.
First: Optimize Your Linked In Profile:
Since Linked In is primarily a job-search tool, it’s set up for resumes but the savvy Solo Pro can make it work for them with a few easy tweaks, such as:
Headline. The headline appears right under your name. It’s the first thing people see when they connect. Use it to state what you do. Don’t be cute, clever, or vague.
Summary. Be strategic here. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch. Use a more direct marketing-oriented approach. Talk directly to prospects.Demonstrate that you understand their needs, and share how your expertise can address those needs.Think branding consistency with your website as you communicate your offerings. Talk directly to your market, not for your peers. Update the specialties field often to cover the breadth of your experience and services. Also use this area to insert the keywords your prospects might be searching.
Join. Mine Linked In Groups to prospect for potential clients. These will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise as you answer questions, start discussions, take polls and let the other group members know what you’ve got coming up to offer them.
Engage. This is where 90% fall down. DO NOT use Linked In (or any other social media tool, for that matter) to just broadcast your sales message. The entire point of creating a ‘link’ is to engage. Ask smart questions. Post helpful and well-informed answers. Share links to relevant articles and resources, whether it’s yours or not. Show what you know.
Second: Develop a 45-Minute a Week Strategy
- Get new clients through online recommendations and word of mouth. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. Increase your word of mouth referrals by asking your happy clients to write you a recommendation, which will be published on your LinkedIn profile and will be broadcast to their entire LinkedIn network.
Keep in touch with people who care most about your business. Sites like LinkedIn help keep your business alive in the minds of the people who care most about your business. LinkedIn is effective for two reasons: the business intent of LinkedIn users and fewer status updates, which mean you stay on top of mind. Tip: You can also increase the impact of your status updates by syncing your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
- Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on. Think of the number of times you’ve asked your colleagues if they knew of a great web designer or photographer. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find and vet vendors through the network of your peers. Additionally, you can also trade services with your vendor connections on LinkedIn; sort of a mutual referral system.
- Build your industry network—online and in person. Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in. For example, if you’re in the event planning or wedding industry, there are over 530 groups. In addition, LinkedIn also surfaces popular events in your industry calling out local events that your connections are attending. Imagine being able to find only industry events that your prospective clients are attending.
- Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends. Small business owners deal with challenging questions on a slew of topics each day. LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to those vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network (LinkedIn tells me there are over 200 different categories on Answers including one dedicated just to small business and over 2000 groups on small business related topics). Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topics here.
- Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise. Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise. This is a great opportunity to win new business or at least find prospective clients to pitch your business to. Prospective customers will find your answers when they use LinkedIn’s advanced Answers search. And don’t forget, what goes around comes around. Don’t forget, this is a great way to soft pitch your skills and expertise.
- Raise funding. You can use LinkedIn to find mentors or potential investors for your startup because there are over three million startup professionals and over 12M small business professionals on LinkedIn and it’s always good to stay in touch with folks who’ve been there, done that and willing to mentor you. Once you’re connected, your participation on LinkedIn (answers, status updates or group conversations) may even cause them to consider investing in your small business.
- Network with peers in your industry for repeat business referrals. LinkedIn Groups is a powerful medium to find peers in your respective industries to network with and to find complimentary businesses to share referrals with. For example, mortgage brokers can find real estate agents to partner with on relevant groups and as most small businesses know, these partners are your best source of referrals that can turn into repeat business. With over 2000 groups dedicated to small business topics, you’re sure to find a relevant group to network.
- Convince potential customers of your expertise by sharing unique blog content. Small businesses smart enough to create unique content on their expertise (either with a blog or twitter account) should link to it from their LinkedIn profiles. Or take it one step further by promoting featured blog content to LinkedIn members on the site (for e.g. with small text ads). You can specify exactly who will see your ads—Executives or VPs—and include a link to your profile so they know who’s behind this content.
- Keep your friends close and your competition closer. Over 150,000 companies have a company profile on LinkedIn, the “public profile” for companies. These pages surface key stats on companies; recent hires as well movers and shakers. Not only do company profiles give you unique insight into your competition, they also give you an opportunity to stumble upon potential hires by browsing through company pages.